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Bel Canto (Restaurant)

Picture of Bel Canto in Paddington, London

Corus Hotel Hyde Park, 1 Lancaster Gate, Paddington, London, W2 3LG
Cuisine: French Average Price: £54
Tel: 020 7262 1678 | Email to Bel Canto | Transport: Lancaster Gate | Write review

Bel Canto Review

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During the working week, there are often moments when the fug of an exceedingly bad day plays heavily upon each and every one of us, yapping at our heals like a persistent charity mugger. This grumpy head might then lead to complications when dining out later that night: an off the cuff remark, a heated debate, a glass of thrown Rioja, a thunderous exit. Dramas, dramas, dramas!

This sort of thing happens quite a lot at Bel Canto. Actually, it happens all the time. When I was there, my deliciously oniony crab & lobster milles-feuilles was interrupted by some love-struck posh lady loudly dictating a letter to her poor assistant about her philandering husband. Later, as I was enjoying my succulent duck breast main with fresh fruit, some conceited young woman started noisily harking on about how beautiful she looked wearing fancy jewellery. And if that wasn’t enough, my dessert was halted briefly by a booming professional fighter who was posturing around the room, trying to gain the affections of some gypsy chick called Carmen or something.

And, if I’m honest, I loved every single minute of it. I was happy to have a Donizetti in my salmon cappuccino. I was glad to see a Bizet in my soup. And it was no problem to taste some Mozart in my Hawkes Bay Merlot. In fact, any composer with a Z in their name was welcome. Having said that, though, the most remarkable performance of the night came from a Czech mermaid, Rusalka, singing about her love for a human prince. Overall, three and a half very enjoyable hours.

Anyone who believes that operatic restaurants are gimmicky or somehow reduce the art form to a sideshow circus is probably the kind of person who would find things to complain about in their own reflection. A visit to Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House is strictly a dinner-then-show affair. The whole evening probably costs an arm, a leg, your eldest offspring and your three best goats. Bel Canto, on the other hand, cuts out the middle man, for a fraction of the price.

Plus, after each theatrical scene unfolds, the singers actually discuss what just happened with the diners. You don’t get that at the Royal Opera House. These young artists are still only students, yet it’s hard to believe that they could actually get any better. Even the occasional faint hum of the Central Line below doesn’t distract them from their magnificence.

Bel Canto originated in Paris a decade ago and this is its second London home, having previously lived in a cave in The City where the experience was somewhat lost. Now domiciled in the basement of a Hyde Park-facing hotel, Bel Canto is much cosier than before. The decor - dark reds, decorative opera posters, headless costumes, grand piano - is almost identical but the ceilings are lower, the chandeliers are brighter, and the tables closer.

The rent must be cheaper too because the quality of the mainly-French cuisine is exactly as it was in The City, but costing a third less. I almost feel sorry for the French chef - nicked from the original Parisian Bel Canto - for playing second fiddle to the music. His dishes are not nearly as dramatic as the performances, but it’s hardly fair to expect them to be. Both food and wine tick the ‘above average’ box: well presented, perfectly portioned, and with the addition of possibly the best tiramisu I’ve ever tasted. Unfortunately, those starters on the menu that are inspiring - the buttery fois gras medallions and plum chutney, for example - require an additional supplement to the bill, though.

The set menu is £35 for 3 courses (without wine). Seems quite reasonable for an above average meal. Throw in 3 hours of quality opera, though, and it’s easy to see why it’s popular with such a large range of appropriately dressed people: British, foreign, young, old, fat, thin, black, white, couples, groups, and thankfully, NOT children.

My only complaint is not even directed at Bel Canto. Whilst most diners dutifully sit in silence, mouth agog in awe, respectfully basking in the brilliance of these talented artistes, the American gentleman at the next table thinks it’s good form to whisper, natter, giggle and take photos throughout every single performance. You, sir, are a Philistine and deserve a jolly good smiting in the face. Also, don’t be late and turn your mobile off. This is not a meal, this is an event.

Going to dinner should not be just about the food. It’s the whole experience that matters. Anyone with a shred of romance in them will be shouting “Bravo, Bel Canto” by the end of the evening. Pound for pound, one of the best value-for-money restaurants London is ever likely to enjoy. more

Customer Reviews for Bel Canto

Average (based on 4 votes): 4 Atmosphere: Value: Quality:

The following customer reviews are not endorsed by Fluid London and are simply those of users who wish to publish their independent experiences of Bel Canto.

“This is my third time back at the Bel Canto opera restaurant and it just gets better and better every time. In terms of value for money, it's amazing. The food is of a high standard, the wine is varied, but the atmosphere is totally enthralling, and even though I've been several times, I've hardly seen any repetition in the arias being performed. Bravo!”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Ethan H, Hampstead (10 years 18 days ago)

“My girlfriend and I celebrated her birthday there and we had an unforgettable experience. The singers are all professional and the atmosphere was great. The price is reasonable for this quality of services and food. I highly recommend to anyone who look for good restaurant in London!”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Douglas, Hong Kong (10 years 3 months 24 days ago)

“My wife and I love to eat at high quality restaurants. We also enjoy going to the opera. This Hyde Park restaurant brings two of favourite things together for an incredibly reasonable price. All the favourite opera songs are sung by the waiters and waiteresses who are all clearly stars in the making, such is their talent. I recommend Bel Canto to anyone who enjoys the drama of music and the taste of good meal.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Nigel, Brent Cross (10 years 7 months ago)

Show all user reviews for Bel Canto

“My girlfriend and I went for our anniversary and it made our weekend, amazing food,atmosphere,singers... Nothing bad to say at all. 100% recommend it to anyone that wants to try something different!!!”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Marie, Paris (11 years 4 months 22 days ago)

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Fine French food in a warm and intimate dining room, served by fantastic singing waiters. Our professional opera singers have been trained at some of the most prestigious conservatoires and academies in the world and will be happy to share the stories and history behind each aria they sing. While you listen, you can enjoy our wonderful French cuisine prepared by Head Chef Gilles Martin.

Updated 22/08/2017

Bel Canto Menu
September 2017


A good choice of wine!

Updated 27/11/2009

Bel Canto Opening Hours

Monday: Closed Friday: 7:00pm - 11:00pm
Tuesday: Closed Saturday: 7:00pm - 11:00pm
Wednesday: 7:00pm - 11:00pm Sunday: Closed
Thursday: 7:00pm - 11:00pm    

Additional Information

Events and other great things going on at Bel Canto

Do not hesitate to contact Bel Canto Team should you need help organizing your Christmas parties or any other special event you would like to celebrate.

Updated 27/11/2009

Bel Canto Hire Details

Bel Canto is also available for exclusive and private hire. The young artists deliver a stunning vocal performance tailored to your individual needs.

Updated 27/11/2009

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