Resto 1 Balconies Restaurant, Covent Garden

The odd retro resto aside I couldn’t drum up much enthusiasm for writing in 2021. Until now. A spell of decent weather, a decent cup run by England and theatres and music venues reopening mean that I’ve got my mojo back and I’m ready to review again.

I’ve been to a few places since the reopening but generally old friends like Al Duca, Shoryu, Piccolo Diavolo and the BM Pizza Express (still the best and with the same manager in place).

And for the first review of 2021 it’s also back to a place I’ve written about before but it being a celebration of reopening it can also double up as one my sporadic pieces on music venues in London. And there’s more to come.

And what a venue! There are inverted snobs who would chill a conversation drifting towards extolling a joint like the Royal Opera House (Lord’s is another one) but my view is that since we’re paying for this shit anyway we might as well use it rather than leaving it the preserve of toffs, tosspots and oligarchs. Like a lot of expensive things it’s better value than a similar product at half the price but a fraction of the quality. And if you’re young, or sharp elbowed on the booking side of things, it can be cheap too.

Covid restrictions mean that mingling with the shlebs in the foyer while waiting to dump your coats isn’t on so we were straight up to table to eat a couple of courses before the show.*

Take two bottles to the opera?

Sitting under the great glass ceiling of the floral hall on a cool summer’s evening has to be one of the best ways to spend your 25th/26th wedding anniversary celebrations, especially if you’ve got Louis Roederer on the go with Mr Chablis not far behind.

We’d pre-ordered so there was no perusing of the menu. My smoked salmon was delicious with a spoff of roe and blinis while a main of seared beef and Asian salad was also about as good as I’ve tasted this year. The service was impeccable and while the tables were distanced there was an agreeable murmur from our fellow diners that almost let one forget that we’re still in the middle of The Thing.

Mains despatched we hurried off to watch Schrott swagger around as the Don in a stripped back production which had Finley in perfect voice but without the comic bounce that I like to see in a Leperello. The women, as well as singing magnificently, also brought a bit more nuance to their roles that meant that they weren’t just portrayed as victims of the cockmonster.

We took dessert (and the last of the booze) in the interval – fruit and cheese to which the resto handed a selection of delicious chocolates as well as a ‘Happy Anniversary’ chocolate scrawl. Emotion heightened by the music and acting we both shed a few tears and turned nostalgic.

In the second half I missed a full-on party scene sabotaged by C***d but admired Schrott’s genuinely portrayed f*ck-you attitude to conventional morality, which was crushed when rather than being dragged into the fiery pit (always a joy) he was left alone on stage finally aware that his personal hell is to be alone with his sickening self. While others are of the opinion that hell is other people (of which more soon) for the egoist there’s nothing more crushing than indifference.

10/10 for everything.

Food London Restaurants

f1insburyparker View All →

Blue Badge guide to London and academic specialising in early twentieth century history. Blogging on history, academia, and food and culture in the capital (and occasionally elsewhere).

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