Performing arts centre The Anvil, with its 1,400 capacity, is one of the biggest entertainment venues in Hampshire. And it’s home to some pretty big performances, too, with 2019 including everything from family shows like In The Night Garden Live to the nostalgia value of acts like Belinda Carlisle and Lulu, as well as comedy from Frank Skinner and Jimmy Carr and music from the incredibly talented Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra.
Once you get inside, though, your food options are pretty much limited to sweets, chocolate or ice cream – so it might be wise to grab a meal nearby beforehand to save you getting hungry halfway through.
Festival Place is packed with chain restaurants offering quick and easy food options, but if you’re looking for something more independent, you’ll find plenty of choices nearby, too. Like these, which are all within a ten-minute walk of The Anvil…
Yamazaki Sushi Bar
Contrary to what the name suggests, Yamazaki Sushi Bar isn’t all about the sushi: there’s a whole host of Japanese dishes on the menu to tuck into. This tiny restaurant on Feathers Lane turns out authentic and delicious dishes with incredibly friendly and helpful service – and in great time, too, making it the perfect choice for a pre-show meal. Try the generous bowls of steaming udon noodles with a fish, meat or veg topping of your choice – or the warming chicken katsu curry with fluffy rice that’s packed full of flavour.
Festival Street Kitchen
If you’re looking for something super-speedy, then Festival Street Kitchen on Festival Square is a great shout. These guys dish up all sorts of Tex Mex treats (as well as jacket potatoes) from a hut on the square – and there’s always a daily-changing “big pan special” on offer, too. It’s a busy place, and it’s easy to see why: the food tastes fantastic, the portions are generous, and there’s both indoor and outdoor seating. We love the pulled Cajun chicken wrap, its fiery heat tempered by plenty of rice, creamy guacamole and cooling sour cream.
A great choice if you’re looking for dishes to share as a family or group of friends before you hit The Anvil! Chennai Express on Wote Street is an authentic introduction to the food of South India, including plenty of choices for those with all sorts of dietary requirements. It’s a bold, bright and vibrant restaurant that gets very busy in the evenings. We love their rich and fragrant South Special Chettinad curry (choose chicken, lamb or king prawns): a delicious dish combining the warming flavours of coconut milk, red chillies, black pepper and curry leaves.
The Queens Arms
Fancy some pre-show pub grub? The Queens Arms couldn’t be much closer to The Anvil, tucked away behind the railway station. It’s a traditional-style pub with a great outdoor seating area, and it’s in the Good Beer Guide, too. The menu is packed full of classic pub favourites: think nachos, ribs, burgers and chilli. If you’re feeling hungry, tuck into their meaty mixed grill before the show: with steak, chicken, sausage, gammon, egg, tomato, chips and salad all included, it’ll definitely keep you going for the whole evening!
Duck and Tipple
Pre-show cocktail AND something to eat? Yes please! You’ll get both at Duck and Tipple on Wote Street: a first-floor bar-restaurant with a great atmosphere and comfortable seating. On the food menu, you’ll find dishes like hot dogs, nachos, quiches and wraps. We particularly love their sharing boards: choose five meats and/or cheeses from a list of 16, which’ll be brought to your table along with plenty of crackers, olives and chutneys.