The Apron, Plymouth

Abi Manning treads the boards at this above-theatre dining experience, discovering an insider’s spot that appeals to a broad audience

An imposing Messenger greets you on arrival at The Apron at Theatre Royal Plymouth. But fear not: Messenger is in fact a seven-metre-tall bronze statue crafted by Cornish sculptor Joseph Hillier, commissioned to conclude the theatre’s regeneration project.

The crouched female figure, inspired by a split-second pose formed by an actor during a rehearsal of Othello, conveys an engaging energy, lightness and vibrancy which holds a clue as to the creative inspiration to be found on crossing the threshold.

But drama isn’t the only source of delectation inside: the gourmet offering on the first floor sees head chef Davin Browning and team surprise and delight visitors even before curtain up.

VISIT if you’ve never found a pre-theatre dining destination that deserves a shout of ‘encore!’. The Apron bears a buzzy atmosphere and fresh, flavoursome dishes – many crafted from locally sourced ingredients. Ever known a theatre kitchen to bake its own bread every morning and serve it with the sweet, nutty accompaniment of Devon rapeseed oil? Exactly.

DON’T VISIT just for pre-show dining. It’s a hard task finding quality indie dining options in the city, and we’ve already put this one through its audition (you’re welcome). We recommend taking advantage of the winter sales, then settling in for a long, indulgent lunch or dinner with friends. Linger over three courses and have the run of the place after the mass exodus when fellow diners rush to take seats in the stalls.

WE LIKED the supporting cast of ingredients which elevated each dish: the umami notes of pickled mushrooms alongside the sweetness of hoi sin; the heat of horseradish cutting creamy mash; and the fragrant waft of basil dancing across the tongue in every spoonful of pannacotta.

What we ate (dinner)

Starter Duck bon-bons, hoi sin ketchup, pickled mushrooms, pak choi

Main Braised feather blade of beef, horseradish mashed potato, shallot, greens, braising juice

Pud Basil and buttermilk pannacotta, poached fig, lemon biscuit

3 courses from £27

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Indy Coffee Box
Salcombe Gin & Paul Ainsworth
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Salcombe Gin & Paul Ainsworth

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Indy Coffee Box

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Indy Coffee Box