The Balconies Restaurant at the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden is situated in the glass-vaulted Paul Hamlyn Hall (the former Covent Garden flower market!) and is considered the principal dining venue at the Opera House. As the name implies the restaurant is in fact on the balconies, and whilst dining you look out over the Paul Hamlyn champagne bar below.
As an aperitif I chose the ‘Pear Drop’, a simple but elegant combination of Ruinart champagne and fresh pears, which was delightfully refreshing (Ruinart are sponsors of the Royal Opera House I believe). My starter was a fish trio of sorts – smoked salmon, a crab terrine and a mackeral pâté with the classic accompaniments. Simple, but well-presented and ideal for a fish lover (which I certainly am).
My sea bass was cooked perfectly and the ceps and chive butter sauce combination worked well. The dauphinoise potatoes however were slightly disappointing in terms of texture and presentation; rather too dense. It was still a very enjoyable main course though.
The pudding was a rich chocolate tart with an orange flavoured cream and some fresh orange. Tasty, yes, but certainly lacking in pizazz and, dare I say, a little boring. The presentation could have been improved at the very least.
All in all I would recommend dining at the Balconies Restaurant if attending an opera or ballet at the Royal Opera House as the food is generally of a high standard and the setting very pleasant. Another advantage is that you can return to your table during the interval(s) for pudding or coffee where as those who haven’t dined beforehand generally have to stand up near the bar for the duration of the interval.