It's been about twenty years since I last found myself inside notorious theatrical hangout Joe Allen and it's a compliment to say that it's barely changed.
Here is a place that really needed to have given a pass on the cigarette ban. Tucked around the corner from Drury Lane in London's theatre district you imagine it dark and smoky, with deals being done over thick slabs of meat and understudies downing martinis while stabbing voodoo dolls of leading actors in a bid to get their big break.
Of course, it's actually a good, simple eatery - perfect if you are chowing down before or after a show. Pitched as an American-style bar/restaurant, flesh is what's mainly on the agenda here.
The burger is one of their specialities and the sirloin steak I had was chunky and had excellent flavour. The French fries too was crispy and plentiful. My fellow diner's pan-fried cod came with a butterbean puree and courgette (zucchini on the menu) which smelled and tasted of zesty citrus, though there could have been a bit more of the latter. Not normally a fish fan, he told me he for some reason expected it to be battered. It wasn't, but was cooked well.
Having lived in Los Angeles, I've eaten at lots of genuine American places and the chopped salad starter was something I could have eaten on the west coast, the pecans and blue cheese dressing instantly negating anything green and healthy on my plate, which is exactly as it should be.
Pudding for me was a brownie, which was excellent, while I was pleased to see my companion's cheese dessert on the set menu didn't come with extra money attached as seems to happen a lot in London restaurants these days.
We chatted movies and thesps whilst sucking down Brooklyn lager - you've got to at least pretend you're associated with the biz at Joe Allen - before stepping out into the heart of theatreland. Alas not with a deal for a new script, but a very full stomach.