We were very lucky to get a booking for 7 people for lunch. The place was fully booked.
The food is American. Steaks, grills and salads, appetisers and market fish etc. If you are a fan of burgers ask for a Secret Burger - it's not on the menu -- and you will be surprisingly shocked -- it is AMAZING!!!
The brick work walls are adorned with posters of classic musical and stage productions, famous American stars and the odd sporting icon.
Great place for food and drinks!
In the heart of Covent Garden, littered with show stills on the walls, the sort of place where you can have champagne cocktails at the bar and play drinking games forfeiting your drink, downing your Bellini at the sight of Sue Pollard.
Service was great, down-to-earth for the theatre patron clientelle letting their hair down after a west end show.
On arrival there was a coat check, I love a cloakroom, bonus points there and the nice touch of a (I discovered later to be a comically surly) pianist at the entrance accompanying the evening with lilting show tunes in the back ground of this dimly lit sub terrainian basement. It has an air of exclusivity, it isn't (but early booking is advised).
Our party was probably one of half a dozen celebrating that night and said surly pianist threw a comedy strop and slammed down his piano lid when the evening began drawing to its rowdy crescendo and this was as early as the parsnip bisque starter arriving
I could't quite tell what the menu was about; goats cheese salad, burger or steak? Not that fancy at all. The Christmas menu wasn't either. My pulled pork and duck terrine, served with a side of cranberry ketchup, looked more like a tipped out tin of Sheba and although I am not the queen of- I was expecting something a little finer.
From the Christmas menu, I then chose the mackerel which was disappointing to say the least, not unlike supermarket vacuum packed mackerel I'd have for a quick mid-week dinner, it was fried and unpleasantly super fishy tasting and I have my suspicions that the potatoes on the side may have been tinned as they were unpleasantly briny and tasted of a tin. A cheese course for sweet also came, bizarrely, with a toasted currant bun.
My dining companions going for the turkey were also left unimpressed with this star dish's best impression of a single serve mum's gone to Iceland microwave meal.
Did Joe Allen's have the X Factor, no but nevertheless we thought we saw Sue Pollard several times so drinking games were successful. A pleasant evening was had by all and the service staff were exemplary, truly in the sprit of things, however the food was not a showstopper.
Dinner at Joe Allen, a little 'secret' downstairs spot on a Friday night. Casablanca playing on the TV, movie star photos on all the walls, you get the feeling that you could be off-Broadway somewhere in New York.
Being particular, I wanted the cheese plate as a starter. They graciously agreed. Though I felt the walnut raisin bread was just too sweet and overpowered the delicate cheeses.
Of course I had to order the 'secret' burger, and my companions followed suit. It was okay. Since the burger revolution hit London, our expectations stepped up a bit but this was pretty alright. A small but really thick patty, I ordered mine with bacon and cheese. Very tasty and left me feeling SO FULL!
The highlight for me was dessert: sour cream, pear and caramel pie. Just amazing.
Epic burger fail! Intrigued by the great experience Dan H has with the BurgerMonday event hosted by Young & Foodish at Joe Allen, I added it to my burger shortlist. And when the Champagne & Fromage Elite event was right around the corner, this seemed like a perfect time to give it a go.
I ducked out of work early, sped over to Covent Garden, and within 15 minutes I was the proud owner of a brand spanking new bacon cheeseburger from Joe Allen. The sun was shining on a convenient spot in Covent Garden market with some pretty decent live music and the friendly hostess had thrown in a quarter full bottle of Heniz ketchup to go with the fries. Life was good. Well until the first bit at least.
To be far, the bun is decent and the cheese tasty. Overall, it's a tad on the small size but filling enough especially with the large portions of fries. But it's when you get to the meat that it all goes to hell in the breadbasket.
First off, the patty is about 2 inches think and about that in diameter so rather than the typical burger shape you get a cylindrical lump of meat. And it's dense. How dense is it? Well it's denser than your stereotypical line backer after a 3 day bender. It's so dense that I didn't bite into it so much as gnaw away at the edges. And as Dan H has mentioned, it's dry. And given I had ordered it medium rare (to avoid just that) and it was very pink, that's a damn impressive feat of cooking.
The fries were alright but nothing special. They are medium-thick cut with moderately fluffy insides but severely lacking in crunch factor.
On the plus side, the interior décor is pretty cool and the hostess was uber friendly and helpful. In fact, I liked almost everything (well prices were a tad high for the quality but not for the location) except the burger patty. And since that's what I specifically came for it was a bit of a letdown. I can't say I won't ever return, but it's definitely not going to be high on my list. Given you have a Byron and even MEATMarket just around the corner, Joe Allen's will need to up the stakes in the burger department if it wants to compete.
After a couple of rounds of cocktails at The Dorchester, followed by a few more rounds of drinks at a pub, we decided we needed some food. But as it was 10.30pm at night and being London, of course everything was closing. Where to go? A friend suggested Joe Allen and off we went.
As mentioned in other reviews, you could miss this place, signage is minimal. Down the stairs and we were immediately sat at a table, luckily as it was quite busy (guess others had the same in mind).
I had the chicken, another had turkey/stuffing, another surf & turf, the other half of HampsteadLife just had cheesecake.
And of course a round of martinis! All was tasty. It's a bit pricey for what it is, but hey, they're open late and the food was tasty!
Whilst I wouldn't go here during normal London food serving times, for a late night meal, would be back here in a flash.
Fun brunch with lots of laughs, nice champagne! We felt like we were back in the US, which sometimes can be a fantastic thing. It is located close to a lot of fun areas.
I love the New York version of this place and have now been to the London branch three times. Each time it has found a new way to just not be quite right.
My sister and I came here for some supper before going to the theatre round the corner. We weren't overly hungry and the mains looked just too substantial, so we opted to have a starter and a salad each. I had the scallops with mushrooms, my sister had the mozzarella and tomato, then we both had the caesar salad.
The scallops and mozzarella were amazing, The mushrooms that came with my starter were fantastic, the scallops were tiny, and packed with flavour. Much nicer than large fatty ones.
The caesar salad was unfortunately dunked in dressing, and I know, I should remember to ask them to go light or put it on the side, but I forgot and didn't like it too much. The lettuce was very crisp though!
We had the chocolate brownie to share for a pudding. It wasn't hot, and didn't come with ice cream!! (We had to ask for it).
What looses points for me was the odd service. It wasn't bad, just really fragmented (we were served by about 5 different people, all who seemingly did not speak to each other). Also, one waitress stood at the end of the bar tapping out her own personal song on a glass with a spoon. That's just obnoxious!
What really pissed me off was the extra 2.50 for a very small dollop of ice cream, when the waitress had said it would be comped. bad bad bad.
Really nice staff, a talented piano player, wall to wall with vintage west end film posters, I felt like I was in a Woody Allen film.
Shhhh... If you ask the staff nicely, there are a few 'off the menu' specialties.
NB - the four stars is for the burger, the rest of the food would be lucky to scrape a two...
Descend down the dark staircase into the basement space, bare brick walls covered in West End folio posters from shows currently on and those that are 30 year old. It's comfortable, clubby and always busy. Grab a drink at the long bar and listen to Jimmy the pianist hit a range of showtune standards on late week nights.
The menu is a dogs dinner of vague Americana and 70's oddities. It's hardly a thing of beauty, but guests can chose from a mash-up ranging from Caesar Salad, Chilli Con Carne and cornbread through to 70's relics such as chicken with orange sauce. The best advice I can give you is not to follow suit. The portions might be large, it's an American restaurant after all, but what I've sampled over the years has struggled to raise the bar beyond the pedestrian at best, and can be sub-TGI Fridays at it's worst.
Go for the burger. And only the burger. It's not on the menu, but don't feel bashful, everyone knows about it these days. It's a thick charred bombe of a patty served medium rare as standard housed within the soft sweet cathedral of a brioche bun. Good crispy bacon and melted (cheddar) cheese are a worthy accompaniment, as are the spears of gherkin served on the side. Add skin on fries, occasionally over salted but generally as good as these things can be, and serve with a side of salacious gossip, preferably about who's doing who in the current show you're working on.
I've been meaning to eat at this restaurant for ages and as if by magic, Seb surprised me with an invitation to come dine with him there.
The restaurant entrance was so discreet that we very nearly missed it, but literally as soon as we followed the winding stairwell down to the very cosy basement, I knew we were onto a winner.
The brick walls were covered with a splatter of various West End posters and the dining area was arranged in cosy twos and larger tables, stretching to the back of the dining room, where an open hatch gave us a direct view into the kitchen.
Our waitress was friendly and attentive, taking our order promptly. While we waited, she despatched a bread basket, which included some beautiful rosemary rolls.
Then my main arrived. It was delicious. Starting with a tiny pot of coleslaw that I was expecting to be an overly sweet afterthought. It turned out to be the correct balance of carrot and cabbage, covered in a dressing just the right side acidity and sweetness, nicely seasoned.
The grilled chicken was perfectly charred, moist and juicy inside and not overpowered by its spices. And the ribs....OMG ! A cheeky, dripping festival of sweet sticky ribs, so perfectly cooked that cutting through them, was as easy as butter. The accompanying rice was lovely and just enough to mop up the ribs gravy.
Just one bugbear (but then again isn't there always ?) the cornbread which I was really looking forward to was unfortunately, an uninspiring heavy polenta/cornmeal mixture that was dense in texture and tasted incredibly bland.
Cornbread is only ever the real mcCoy when it actually contains real corn, is moist inside and perfectly baked.
The Joe Allen vibe is undeniably cosy and intimate enough to make you feel right at home. Its patrons are diverse - from ladies that lunch to families and tourists.
Also there's the theatre darlings, represented at our sitting, by comedy legend Jackie Mason who shuffled through the dinning room looked incredibly small and very, very grumpy.
Cheer up Jackie ! It may never happen if it has already, at least you had another great meal at Joe Allen !
Disastrously disappointing ... if you are willing to give up 3 hours of your day for less than mediocre food at ridiculous prices then get in line. Otherwise, keep moving a long, it's simply not worth it.
There were only 3 other tables filled. We had a prime seat, in perfect view of the kitchen, which was staffed with multiple cooks (all of which seemed to be standing around). I noticed my sandwich sitting under the heat lamp for quite a bit. I don't know if this is a new method of cooking food, but let me tell you - it's not a good one. When the food was finally delivered - it was nothing special. Everyone at our table was very let down.
I was keen to try Joe Allen as its burger made many a top 10 list for the best burgers in London. And the verdict is....meh it's just OK and a bit small, hence the 3 star rating.
Interestingly enough the burger is not on a menu and you have to "secretly" ask for it. However it can't be too much of a secret as I saw many a table dining with said burger. The meat itself was well cooked and clearly higher-quality chuck. The bacon was a bit undercooked and its smokiness actually overpowered the burger and its brioche bun.
The buffalo wings as a starter are delicious---I'd definitley get them again, though be forewarned they are covered in a tangy sweet bbq sauce instead of your traditional tabasco laced sauce (see pics).
As for the atmosphere, the other reviewers are spot on, Joe Allen is an interesting exposed brick space below the streets of Covent Garden. Has the atmosphere of a higher-end American family-style restaurant, almost like a fancy candle lit TGIFridays---though that sounds a bit harsh, Joe Allen is actually nicer than that.
All in, Joe Allen is a solid but not spectacular 3 star place for American fare in Covent Garden.
I really don't like eating in a basement but I will make an exception for Joe Allen.
Its theatrical, its traditional, the food is good and the wine is served in carafes.
Menu changes quite a lot so theres always something there that is tempting. Burgers are excellent as are the salads.
Don't forget when you go down there, those what work in the theatre business are sat on one side of the room and "civilians" get plonked on the other.. And there is a hallowed "best table" so its always interesting to see who is there.
We got a really good deal for a three course meal, I was not sure as tried the place a few years ago and thought it was average.
This time I was pleasantly surprised - bill was not over the top, I am a vegetarian and there was plenty of choice and tasted delicious, service was a bit rubbish but for what we paid it was a great meal and night out
We brought our after theater Joe Allen ritual from NYC to London and the transition worked out just fine. After watching Equus on the West end we were off to Convent Garden area for a late supper at Joe Allen's.
I had the lamb chops which were fabulous nd my GF had the pan fried, corn fed chicken with mash. Services was a bit slow, but then again so were we, so that was no real bother--except when it comes to cocktails of course.
Joe Allen's is a good place to dine after a show. Very chill atmosphere--be on your toes to find the entrance--meaning: save the drinking for after you find your way inside.
accepts late reservation and great for dining after the theatre show. Food is fine. The atmosphere is like in the Theatre canteen.
Joe Allen is one of these comforting places that has always been here and never fails to deliver. It also serves the latest dinners and saved me from many a hangover
Staff are extremely courteous and friendly and the food is excellent (chicken and haddock main courses on our last visit, followed by a yummy peacan pie).
The fact that it is in a basement location helps forget everything else around you and being transported into a different time.
I recently had a late night meal in Joe Allen and I wasn't disappointed. On Sunday and Monday nights they have a £20 menu that gives you three courses, half a carafe of wine or some champagne and water! You can't beat that for value. I didn't opt for that on my last visit. I had something off the menu but should be tried and that was their burger. £10, and you get some beautiful beef with cheese or bacon or both. I just had cheese and it comes in a beautifully toasted brioche bun. I had some chips with mine but my restaurant fella had a jacket potato and sour cream. The meat just melted in the mouth and I wanted more, even though they had a massive hunk of cow in my bun. We had come Caesar salad as a side and that was perfection.
Given I had quite a simple meal I feel I should go back and try more of the menu on the basis of research. It is highly worth paying a visit to.
Black pudding and scallops, very tasty (particularly the black pudding), calves liver with sauteed sweet potato, very tasty, cheesecake disappointing.
Maybe would have got four stars if I'd been drinking, although the virgin mary was excellent.
No idea why I hadn't heard of this place before it came up on Groupon.
This cavernous, underground restaurant in the heart of the West End must be one of Covent Garden's best kept secrets, unless I'm just out of touch!
Set menus are the way forward here, and there are plenty to choose from, to suit every budget. The portions are hefty, the food is good and you can tell they've got their kitchen operating like clockwork.
A London institution!
My sister booked this place for my Dads Birthday this year, she can be quite demanding but they where very happy to carry out her requests of decorating the table before he arrived, bringing a cake for them to serve amongst others .
The restaurant is in classic retro American style with lots of theatre poster adorning the walls.We found it quite busy despite it being a weeknight when we went , so booking would be recommended.
The food was very good. The menu had a good choice on it including a set menu. The service was friendly though we did have a wait a bit.
Booked this restaurant for a party of five on their website. This was really easy and straight forward way of doing it, and would be great if more places had this facility. The night was standard Joe Allen affair. Lots of atmosphere, good food, and friendly staff. It seems to be the place to go when you have friends from out of town. It has something for everyone on the menu - in fact they don't even put hambugers on it (something you would expect from an Amercian diner), but you can get them if you ask.
Certainly worth visiting.
Going to have a nice dinner? well this is the place that you are looking for! Come and see there beautiful and fabulous decor in Joe Allen.The best place where you can enjoy eating there very delicious food that they have.
Decent service, passable food. Just like nearly every other place I've been to in Covent Garden, you're paying for the nearby attractions--not haute cuisine. The decor is kitschy and a little dingy. When I walked in, I felt like it was a cross between a local family pizza restaurant and a Chili's / TGI Friday's (aka "come see all the crazy crap on the walls!")
It's not going to wow you, but you probably won't be offended. A safe choice, but there are better options in the area.
Joe Allen's was the latest venue for Daniel Young's Burger Monday, as it's Independence Day tomorrow, NYC native Daniel Young wanted to host a Burger Monday in a American food joint. So it was my first time at Joe Allen's, i walked through the doors and down the stairs into the basement, then it hit me, am I in New York? Hundreds of posters on the wall, a bar that looked liked it had been stolen from the set of Cheers (i know the bar was from Boston, same sort of thing thou) and a very warm greeting from the front of house manager, so we were showed to our seats, where all the Burgers Monday enthusiasts were seated. So like every Burger Monday you knew what you were getting, so we started with a buffalo wing slider, and man was it good, bun was slightly toasted, the chicken juicy and tender, and the hot sauce, nice and tangy, also got a apple slaw which gave the dish a different texture, so I was well happy to get off to a flyer, next up was the main event, The Bacon Cheese Burger, you had the pickles and onion on the side so you could add if you wanted, which i did, and we got two big bowls of fries which we shared as a table, i took a massive bear like bite out of the burger, it was good, the crunch of the onion mixed well with the gooey cheddar and the smokey bacon, then the final hit was the burger, it tasted good, the only gripe i have, was the dryness of it, not enough juice, but hey, it was still a tasty burger, so overall i had fun, meet some cool people and had a laugh, and i'd like to come back to sample some of the other food.
So why not try a proper New York style burger, it's well worth a punt.
Sparsely populated on a Saturday afternoon, but service was
extraordinarily slow. The famous off menu burger is now listed on the menu,
but wasn't actually available (I've had it in the Paris branch and it
Instead I had a chicken salad the like of which I haven't had
since the dark days of the 80s, when London restaurants were a joke.
Utterly vile. Couldn't tell which elements were chicken and which were
potato. Horrible dressing. Our dishes sat waiting on the kitchen counter
for a waitress for 15 minutes. But the chicken in the salad certainly
hadn't been cooked that day, so it wasn't in a hurry It had died in vain.
companion ordered a second glass of cranberry juice without ice this
time please. The second juice arrived in a far smaller glass to
compensate for the padding that the ice offered in the original. They
really have their eye on the bottom line here. London is absolutely
jammed full of great pre/post theatre dining options. This is a pathetic
anachronism. Someone should put it out of its misery.
Oh, and it was also £56 for two salads, a glass of red wine, a fizzy water and two cranberry juices.
We had dinner early on a Friday evening before heading out for a show. Good service, nice atmosphere, great food. We'll be going back for more venison stew and black pudding with poached egg.
A classic restaurant that's been there for a generation. Traditional America food (Chile con carne, lobster, fish and meat etc) with a warm underground atmosphere - good for almost any occasion. Live jazz on some evenings.
I surprisingly have been to both the Miami and now London locations but not the one in my home city of New York. Nothing special about place as food was okay and decor nothing great as no light reaches room. The beer I got tasted a bit off though service was okay. No reason to come here as so many choices in the area.
This place wasn't too bad - I ordered the cheeseburger w/ bacon. When it first came out, it looked tiny but it is deceiving. It's good but think burgers at Byron's is much better.
Today my plan was originally to try the burger you could get at the newly opened Boxpark in Shoreditch. After reading that the burgers there are perhaps not too good, I decided to change my plans. Boxpark will be around for some time, so I can still try that burger another day. But today, without particular reason, I simply wanted to have a properly good burger. Once again, I checked out young&foodish's Top 10 list at youngandfoodish.com/lond… and decided to try the current #6 Joe Allen.
After having a coffee at Notes Covent Garden (qype.co.uk/place/2153720… ) I walked down to Joe Allen. From the outside, it looks like nothing special. After opening the door, you have to climb down some stairs, and end up in a dark-ish but nice restaurant.
I ordered a sparkling rose and the cheese and bacon burger with fries (yes, as other people already pointed out: the burger is not on the menu, but they're happy to serve it anyway :). An excellent choice, I would say. The burger is not as small as I expected after reading some reviews. For me, it was definitely big enough, and the handcut chips with skin were also delicious. The burger is very simple: a thick patty, melted cheese on top of it, and two strips of grilled bacon on top of that. And all in a tasty bun, that's perfectly sized for this burger. That's a burger how I like a burger to be. No green or saucy distractions. ;)
Really a burger I can recommend! It's also not really expensive.
After the burger I needed an espresso, so that's what I ordered. I got an illy-branded cup with an okay-tasting espresso but what I missed was a glass of water. Perhaps I'm wrong, but at a serious restaurant, I expect a glass of water with an espresso.
Anyway, the food was good, I also liked the atmosphere, it was light enough to read while I waited for the burger and the espresso. It was not very busy, as I was there on a late Sunday afternoon not the busiest time for any restaurant.
Definitely a restaurant I should visit again! And then I will order some water, if I choose to have a espresso ;)
This basement restaurant is a well known haunt for the theatre types - actors and journalists alike dine here pre and post theatre. It's a great little place, and its basement location gives it a cosy, homely feel. It's location on a side street gives it an air of secrecy. It is how you imagine the pub in 'Cheers' would feel if it was a restaurant. The food is fairly good, and the menu varied enough to have what you fancy. Apparently there is a secret 'off-menu' burger that is well renowned, but you have to ask for it.
I always feel quite excited going to Joe Allen, something to do with going down the stairs and sitting at the bar before heading to the table to eat. It's got a great atmosphere, I always feel like I really could be in America. The food is a bit hit and miss but the burger and chips always goes down well and the salads are really good too. You used to see lots of celebs there on a regular basis, not sure if that's still the case but I always look out anyway. They do great cocktails, the service is very friendly and it's a calm place to go to escape the chaos and noise of Covent Garden.
Set in the heart of theatreland, this is a fabulous place for a pre or post show meal.
American in style, (it has a counterpart in New York) the menu includes signature Eggs Joe Allen dish as well burgers and fries, but there are many more gourmet style dishes with good choices of fish and meat as well as interesting salads. Don't miss out on the puddings either, with brownies and ice-cream that are unmissable.
You may often spot a theatre star or two, relaxing after a show, so keep your eyes peeled!
I think Joe Allen themselves would admit they're not trying to win any food awards, but what they have delivered for years is total consistency. Burgers, salads, chile con carne, soup, breakfast etc.
The staff have all been there for ages and take it very seriously. They're not transients killing time waiting for the dream job or the agent to call... and are of a grade that is hard to find in London. They scan each table in passing. Things arrive and disappear with the kind of clockwork efficiency that you witness in an old school Parisien brasserie.
The brick walls are adorned with theatre posters from a bygone era and a piano player gently plays low key tunes in the background.
For what it does, it's excellent.
A classic restaurant that's been there for a generation. Traditional America food (Chile con carne, lobster, fish and meat etc) with a warm underground atmosphere - good for almost any occasion. Live jazz on some evenings.
It is what it is. An american diner with a good range of choices. I enjoyed it here and would go again.
This user has arrived from Qype, a European company acquired by Yelp in 2012. We have integrated the two sites to bring you one great local experience.