Joe Allen has been in London since 1977. I first went there in about 1979 and it has been, on and off, one of my favourite restaurants in town ever since then. When I heard that the building it was in, had been bought and that it would be moving, I was disappointed and worried. They found new premises very close to the old venue, and they reopened in 2018. COVID restrictions hit London soon after and last week was the first time that I had managed to go since the move.
The new Joe Allen is almost the same as the old Joe Allen and that is a very good thing. The atmosphere is still intimate, they turn the lack of natural light into a positive. White tablecloths and theatre posters offset the darker decoration. The music is showtunes and old songs but at a low level so as not to interrupt conversation. The service is really good, attentive without being intrusive, I have to say that is one thing that has improved since the 1980s.
The menu has changed a little, while I was sad to see that the black bean soup is no longer on, there are equally interesting things on there to replace it. The type of food that it does remains the same – unpretentious, comfort food done with style. The menu is short but varied, classic dishes done well. The restaurant caters to people attending the nearby theatres and gets busy both before the shows and after the curtains fall, so if you want to eat late, you should book to ensure you get a table. The cocktails are good, and the wine list has a reasonable selection. It is also pretty good value for its position right between the Strand and Covent Garden. We had a lovely meal, and I fully intend to return.