As my eyes made a sweep of the jam-packed restaurant, I never would have guessed we’re in the middle of a recession.
In fact, the phenomenon boggled my mind and I came up with three possibilities as to why it should be. Maybe the customers are insanely rich people who simply eat out every day. Another reason might be that they are living in denial and continue their big spending trends, racking up some more debts. Or lastly, everyone is ordering from the Theatre Menu which I must admit is a good deal in the heart of the West End. Who knows?!
A salami starter was brought to the table as we were deciding on what to order.
Forever a sucker for cocktails I ordered the Fresh Spiked Passion Fruit Lemonade from the cocktail menu. Sweet, fizzy and fruity; just the way I like it.
Jeanne, from Cook Sister, joined me for the evening and also thoroughly enjoyed her Raspberry Collins. They clocked in at £6.95 each.
Although we both ordered a main course and dessert, we opted to share a starter, Field Mushrooms with Rocket and Goat’s Cheese on Toasted Brioche, from the main menu. What an impressive little mountain of a starter it was and we two girls had no trouble demolishing it with sighs between mouthfuls.
For the price we couldn’t expect fillet steak, but we suspect sirloin was used instead. A lot of times I send meat back if it’s over cooked but this time it was done just right; perfectly rare, albeit a bit fatty. With the meat grilled so expertly, I can only imagine how gorgeous the Châteaubriand from the main menu will be. The biggest disappointment of the meal was the Béarnaise sauce which was lacklustre at best. It lacked the sharpness of onion, the tang of vinegar and no green was present, which meant no tarragon or chervil. It really was a watered down mayonnaise.
Accompanying the steak were the best potato chips I’ve had it in a long time. Crispy and golden on the outside and soft and satisfying on the inside. We eagerly dipped our chips in what we thought was home-made mayonnaise which was delicious.
For a baked cheesecake this blueberry one was extraordinarily light. Not too sweet, yet fruity and the perfect way to end the meal.
8/10: Everything, except the Béarnaise sauce, was of good quality. The Theatre Menu can do with more choices and imagination though.
8/10: The Theatre Menu, two courses for £12.95, is good value. The restaurant’s main menu didn’t strike me as particularly cheap or dear and is comfortably in the average price range of good restaurants.
8/10: Attentive and unobtrusive.
8/10: It did the job.
8/10: I have no recollection of loud or annoying music interrupting conversation. The place was bustling with people which gave it an energetic atmosphere.
8/10: If you are on your way to a performance and looking for an affordable meal I’d definitely recommend the Theatre Menu.
Sophie’s Steak House & Bar
The Opera Quarter
020 7836 8836
The Lion King Theatre Show
Tummies full and ready to stretch our legs a bit Jeanne and I dawdled down the street to the Lyceum Theatre to obtain our tickets. We didn’t need to wait long and before we knew it we were sitting in our seats and the show started.
And did it start with a bang! The “animals” came down the aisles much to the audience’s amazement and the costume design is fantastic, especially the giraffes. In your mind’s eye they seem almost real, walking gracefully around the stage.
At the risk of being shot down in flames I’m going to say the show’s biggest weakness is the child actors. Young Simba especially had a very limited vocal range and failed to hit the right notes.
Having seen the original movie, my favourite song is Hakuna Matata and I was very much looking forward to Timon (meerkat) and warthog (Pumbaa). Unfortunately, they didn’t sing the song nearly long enough because just as I started dancing in my seat the song stopped! Their performances were also somewhat muted, even though they had all the funny lines. Let’s blame the actors’ animal contraptions they had to manipulate, distracting them from the real acting.
The characters who impressed me the most were Rafiki (mandrill), Zazu and Scar.
When we heard the beautiful voice of Rafiki and heard her singing in African language, we glanced at each other and thought exactly the same thing. There was no way a Briton could pull the accent off. Afterwards we researched and we were right! Brown Lindiwe Mkhize is from South Africa and making us proud. Her performance was vibrant, humorous and just downright excellent.
I was impressed with Zazu’s (Stephen Matthews) multi-tasking skills. Completely blue, from head to toe, he operated the bird like a pro. The bird’s facial expressions including his own and voice acting were unbelievably good and deserved a standing ovation for a job well done.
And then there was Scar (George Asprey), who everyone loved to hate. He has the ideal “baddie” voice and accent, yet I liked him anyway.
The effects were really well done, especially the scene where Simba sees Mufasa’s reflection in the water; a 3D effect. Thus far this production had the best sound quality of the shows I’ve seen. I remember watching The Woman in Black and at times I had to increase my hearing aids’ volume so that I could hear the actors’ whispers and suddenly there’s a scream and my ear drums got torn to shreds. It was seriously annoying.
Parents who are wondering whether their children will find the show enjoyable can rest assured everyone will have an awesome time. Even the mothers will who get a treat halfway through when the half-naked hyenas with rippled bodies prance and dance all across the stage.
Thankfully, Young Simba grows up quickly and disappears from the scene completely and gets replaced by the mature Simba. Women will find him hard to miss especially with those glistening, chiselled muscles you can admire even from miles away. Unfortunately, I didn’t know whether to love or hate Andile Gumbe, who is also a fellow South African. His accent was a bit messed up.
What could have been a spectacular show is only a good show, thanks to the weak child acts. It must be said that the whole cast gave it their all with a solid performance and their enthusiasm was palpable. After a few years I have forgotten what it’s like to watch a show with a live audience; it’s fun to feel the electrifying energy swooshing in the air!
We attended the evening show on the 23rd of September 2009.
P.S. I haven’t taken the photos of the show myself since I was afraid to get clobbered over the head with the usher’s flashlight when caught. You’ve been warned.