Sarastro isn’t your usual dining destination…
When frequenting the theatres of the West End, your usual choice is to grab a hasty, pre-show meal at some safe, reliable eatery. Quite simply, that’s the wrong choice, and Sarastro is the reason why. Billing itself as “the show after the show”, this deliciously OTT restaurant boasts an array of barmy decorations and a flair for the flamboyant. I can promise you this: dinner here will be a memorable experience…
Sarastro has its roots in opera, born from original owner Richard Niazi’s love of the genre, and his penchant for putting on a show. Quick word on the inimitable Niazi: when he died in 2008, his funeral procession marched through the streets of Covent Garden, featuring samba music, Chelsea Pensioners, and a police escort. Something for the rest of us to aspire to!
Your first clue to the ostentatious interiors can be found outside, where a leafy facade doesn’t quite disguise the gilded opulence of the signs. The restaurant is named for a character from Mozart’s The Magic Flute, and it’s chock full of repurposed opera boxes, old theatre props, and costumes from productions long since forgot. Even the banisters are recycled, having been purloined from the Royal Opera House many moons ago.
The effect is striking, to say the least – it’s almost as if you’ve wandered into a fabulous old music hall, one which is staging a particularly exuberant production of Arabian Nights. Despite the Italian origins of opera, and the British location, the food is Turkish, with the odd Mediterranean inflection. Mezze platters, falafel, and lamb make frequent appearances on the menu, although there’s a healthy number of veggie and vegan options for the meat-averse.
Meanwhile, your dinner will be soundtracked by classical music and arias from legendary operas; a refreshing change from the stale playlists of your average fast-casual chain. Sarastro is also rather notorious for their bathroom artwork, which gleefully blurs the line between “erotic” and “definitely porn” – so we won’t be posting pictures here, for fear it might offend your delicate sensibilities. Believe me, I tried to find something borderline acceptable, but no dice. I tried, I really did…
Old stage props, opera music, and bathroom nudes: like I said, dinner at Sarastro is anything but ordinary!
Location: 126 Drury Lane, Covent Garden, WC2B 5SU. Nearest station is Covent Garden. See it on Google Maps.
Opening hours: 12-10:30pm (Mon to Sat) 12-3:30pm & 5:30-10pm (Sun). Dress code is smart casual.
Prices: starters begin at £6.45, mains start from £16.95, and desserts run from £6.45.
More information: on their website.
Featured image: @honeypistachio