Sarastro

Tel: +44 (0)20 7836 0101

Address: 126 Drury Lane, WC2B 5QG
Cuisine Type: Mediterranean
nearest tube station Covent Garden

Where to dine out is a decision which most of us reach without much reasoning, and rightfully so. After all, with my dissertation deadline looming, it would be unreasonable to expect me to ponder what I am hoping to accomplish on a given night out. However, one is well-advised to give this question some thought prior to visiting Sarastro.

My friends were visiting from California, and during our mindless meander around Covent Garden, we were awestruck by the impressive exterior of Sarastro. Dubbed ‘The Show After The Show’, the restaurant derives its theatrical theme from its proximity to the Theatre Royal. Adorned by velvet drapes, chandeliers and murals, Sarastro is flamboyant to the point of being surreal. The presence of balcony seats, a royal box, a dress circle and stall seats was a true highlight. The generally cheerful ambience is enhanced by the opera performances on Sunday and Monday evenings. Depending on one’s interests and/or state of intoxication (the wine list is quite impressive by the way), the performances can be highly entertaining or mercilessly annoying.

An hour after being seated on the balcony, we had chomped our way through the entire bread basket and the mezze starter, taken hundreds of photos and fidgeted with every piece of décor we could get our hands on. We waved frantically at the servers below, who seemed oblivious to the fact that the restaurant had two levels. All was well once we got their attention, since the flirtatious waiters seemed particularly enamored by the Californian ladies. A little bit of chit-chat and the freebies piled our way – fruits, sherry, chocolate cake, ice-cream: you name it.

The food, which the restaurant describes as ‘Turkish-oriented’, was generally passable, with occasional items showing flickers or promise. The hot Mediterranean garlic prawns (£6.50) were flavourful and succulent while the smoked salmon (£7.00) was generic. The main courses were sensibly plain but lacking in originality. The Chicken Princess (£9.75), essentially chicken breast with red wine sauce, was acceptable but far from majestic. The grilled halibut (£12.50), accented with mixed vegetables, was nicely cooked, but given that halibut is a relatively forgiving fish, I expected more. The salmon with champagne sauce (£8.50) was fresh and mannerly, consequently drawing better reviews than the other main courses. My sweet tooth found the moist and creamy chocolate cake (£4.50) to be the most gratifying part of the meal. Our total came to around £30 per head.

If you are a fussy foodie with superhuman taste buds, Sarastro may not be for you. However, if you are looking for a fun night out at a restaurant permeated by patrons bursting into fits of giggles, then Sarastro fits the bill. A note to parents: the ‘risqué’ artworks in the toilets are, in my humble opinion, borderline pornographic. So next time you plan to dine out, ask yourself the following question: Am I going out for the food, the fun or the porn?

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