A very typical weekday activity for non-Londoners like me is a dinner & show package from lastminute.com.
It’s a pretty good deal really. You get a two course meal in a touristy restaurant in the West End followed by some cheap seats at a West End play or musical all for £20 or thereabouts.
I am sure in the good ol’ days of 2006 or so the pre-theatre menus were quite tasty. I remember having chicken satay followed by a lovely salmon fillet, or baked camembert followed by roast chicken. Maybe I was just easily pleased back then and my tastes have become more refined but I am sure the pre-theatre food has gone downhill.
Grace was a very typical pre-theatre restaurant, meaning no native Londoners have ever set foot in the place. The staff are friendly Swedish women and harassed South African men. The dinner clientele are all tourists and the nightclub upstairs caters for party-loving Australians and other young foreigners who are living in London temporarily.
The menu choices were very limited, and rather disappointing. The three starters were artichoke soup, baked camembert or breaded chicken. I chose the soup which was nicely seasoned and certainly edible, if a little thin and cold. I would give it 5/10.
Mains were fish & chips with mushy peas, sausage & mash or tomato penne pasta. I chose the sausage & mash as it was advertised as “award winning”. Again it was very average; two sausages, some mash, a bit of gravy, no vegetables, no sauces. In fact we didn’t even have salt and pepper. It wasn’t horrible by any means but certainly nowt to write home about.
My girlfriend had the fish & chips which were thrust at her, the fish upside down and the mushy peas missing. The chips were tasty but the fish hard and overcooked. Again, no ketchup or any other sauces but she did get an oddly chopped lemon wedge and, upon complaining, an egg cup full of mushy peas.
Grace is not a place for delicious, thoughtful cuisine and was probably one of the worst pre-theatre meals I have had, but cocktails were on offer at two for one and the Raspberry Beret (Absolut Raspberri fired up with Schweppes ginger beer & puréed raspberries) was rather good.
The show was amazing! To begin with, our seats were upgraded to the middle of the Stalls, five rows from the front. Had we paid full price they would have been £85 each. Getting an upgrade often happens if you go on an unpopular day like Monday or when the show has been running for a while.
I love the film Ghost anyway and was pleased to find the musical contained a lot of the original script. The special effects were superb, especially the part where the ghost Sam jumps into Psychic Oda Mae Brown’s body in order to touch his girlfriend one last time. The adaptation for stage was amazingly clever.
The songs were a good mixture of heartfelt and upbeat and the dance routines were simple but jolly. The dreadlocked ghost on the train and Oda Mae Brown were the most entertaining, and my personal highlight.
The two lead characters dueted the signature “Unchained Melody” which worked well and tugged at the heartstrings, though not enough to make us shed a tear or actually buy the CD.
To sum up, I had an average meal and a good cocktail in fantastic company followed by brilliant seats at a very entertaining show with a Belgian chocolate mini Haagen Dazs. And all for under £30! How marvellous for a Monday evening in London.