Near covent garden: fabulous restaurant for a group
i'm planning a group dinner and would like to find a restaurant that meets the following criteria:
1. must be able to accommodate a group of around 20
2. must be delicious
3. preferably french but this is not an absolute must
4. must not be super expensive: ideally everyone should be able to get a decent meal for around 20 GBP/person
many many thanks.
i've found cafe rouge but i understand this is a chain, something i would like to avoid. i'm looking for delicious food AND character.
When you say "decent meal" what do you mean? Three courses? Two? Wine? I have to say you'd struggle to get a three-course meal in France for £20 per head these days, never mind London.
Mon Plaisir isn't bad, as I recall, but it's not very cheap.
I'd highly recommend Great Queen Street, at, uh, 32 Great Queen Street.
The food is a mixture of traditional British and French provincial cooking. It's a big place and there's even a room downstairs which I think is available for private hire. Another thing that makes it perfect for groups is that some of their most delicious dishes are prepared for sharing - for example, steak and ale pie for two, or an amazing rib of beef for two, although some sharing dishes can serve up to 6 people! So it creates a lovely communal atmosphere. The individually sized portions are just as yummy, though.
My only worry is the budget. Are you including drinks in that price? If so, that's a very tall order - mains around that area of London won't be less than £12, starters at least £5, and no bottle of wine will be much less than £15. So if you mean a three-course meal with drinks for £20 I really can't think of anywhere. But GQS is wonderful value (the sourcing is fantastic) for the high quality. Think £11-£15 for a main course, £4-6 for a starter.
I like the GQS recommendation but otherwise you could try the private room at Vinoteca since there are 20 of you. Vinoteca's food is European rather than French but it is divine and the wine list is amazing. I do agree with everyone else though - your £20 a head in London will not get you drinks as well unless you go to Pizza Express or a similar chain or try something like one of the Vietnamese restaurants on Kingsland road.
I hate to be negative, but Covent Garden is just terrible for choice. I worked in the area for over 5 years, and you will find that the vast majority of restaurants here are either chains, rip-offs or extremely expensive, and definitely not French.
Places to avoid - Christopher's, Rules, Cafe Pacifico, Tuttons, Henry's, Sardo, I could go on and on. If you don't mind not having French, with your budget in mind I'd suggest a Turkish restaurant called Sofra (even though it is also a chain) or try to get a booking at Joe Allen's, never spectacular but honest. If there were less of you I'd suggest trying Tomasina Meiers' Mexican street food restaurant (not Tex-Mex) but you can't make reservations. Bertorelli's is another chain and probably beyond your budget and a bit low-key for a big group, but the food is good.
Oh dear, do you have to meet in Covent Garden? Sorry to be so negative.
This place (while it calls itself a wine bar, it's really more of a restaurant) has received stellar reviews. It's not massive so you'd absolutely need to call and see if they are able to cater for 20 well in advance, and I've not managed to go myself yet (the good reviews mean it's always packed!) but yes, I've heard great things. And it's just off the Strand, near Charing Cross station.
Again, though, it will really not fit your budget. This area is one of the most touristy and thus expensive in London and good restaurants are thin on the ground precisely because it is a tourist area, so it's not the kind of place where there are restaurants which aim at winning loyal and local clients. I genuinely think Great Queen Street is one of my favourite central London restaurants, and have heard great things of Terroirs...other than that...I'm a bit stumped!