Covent Garden steak house is secret setting for films and TV dramas

The secret star in some of Britain’s favourite TV shows: Covent Garden steak house is eatery where drama has unfolded in Fleabag, McMafia and The Crown

  • Covent Garden restaurant Smith & Wollensky has been featured on several television shows and films
  • Restaurant can earn up to £13,000 for a film shoot and is booked out for an entire day at a time
  • It has been seen on BBC’s Fleabag and McMafia, Netflix hit The Crown and Steve Coogan film Stan and Ollie 
  • The business is an international branch of US chain and sells steaks for as much as £80 and seafood for £125 
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It’s the high end restaurant that you may never have been to but have almost definitely seen and admired – because it is the secret star of some of the nation’s favourite television shows. 

1920s-style steakhouse Smith & Wollensky has been popular with the rich and famous for decades but now its profile has been raised even higher thanks to its exposure on film in recent years.

The swanky £8.5million eatery, which sells Cumberland steaks for £80 and seafood platters for £125, in Covent Garden has been used to film scenes for Netflix’s The Crown and BBC dramas McMafia and JK Rowling-penned The Cuckoo’s Calling.

It was also a key location in the latest series of Phoebe Waller-Bridge comedy Fleabag featuring a family dinner which turns sour after the 33-year-old’s character gets into a passive aggressive row with her godmother, played by Oscar winner Olivia Colman.

Hollywood has also come calling, with the eatery featuring in last year’s Laurel and Hardy biopic Stan and Ollie, starring Steve Coogan and John C Reilly, and 2016 holocaust drama Denial featuring Rachel Weisz.

Reality television fans have also been treated to glimpses at the decor as it has served as a meeting place for the stars of Made in Chelsea while Celebrity Masterchef has also filmed episodes in its kitchens.

Swanky Coven Garden restaurant Smith & Wollensky has shot to fame after being used as a location for several high profile television shows, including 2017 BBC drama The Cuckoo’s Calling, pictured, written by JK Rowling

Smith & Wollensky has most recently been seen on the latest series of BBC comedy Fleabag last month. Creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge is pictured here in the restaurant during a tense dinner scene in the first episode of the second series that ends in a fight 

Staff at Smith & Wollensky say they get dozens of emails every time the restaurant appears on television with customers quick to let them know they recognised the decor, while others come in and ask for tables used in particular shows. Pictured here is a scene in Smith & Wollensky from 2018 BBC drama McMafia

The restaurant, pictured, opened in London in 1977 and is the first international branch of its US parent company. Cumberland steaks sell for £80 while seafood platters cost £125. Last year Smith & Wollensky started offering a ‘whole cow’ menu using as much of the animal as possible for up to £325 per person

Marketing manager Susannah Palmer said customers have been thrilled to see Smith & Wollensky on TV and are always getting in touch to say they recognised the posh white tablecloths and green chairs.

She told the Telegraph: ‘They [customers] get very excited anytime they see us on screen, and the morning after a show has come out we get dozens of emails with screen grabs, telling us we were on TV last night. People often ask if they can book the table in The Crown or whatever.’

When used for filming the restaurant is booked out for 24 hours at a time and it can earn the business up to £13,000 per shoot. 

Ms Palmer added production teams come to her ‘looking for an American restaurant in London’ with ‘art deco decor’.

She said: ‘Our location is perfect, because we’re just a street behind The Strand, close to Trafalgar Squar, the London Eye and most other iconic London sites they might also want to feature.’

Ms Palmer said the restaurant can be made to look like it is any era from the 1920s to 1960s because of the quiet surroundings and similar-looking buildings.

Staff say filming can take up to 15 hours so the restaurant is booked out for a 24-hour period. Staff sometimes also get the chance to work as extras. Pictured here is a scene from Fleabag at the restaurant 

Bosses say producers choose the restaurant because it has a 1920s American style but can also be made to look like it is from any era between the 1920s and 1960s because of the quiet surrounding streets and architecture

Film shoots often involve 15-hour days with up to 80 people working on a scene on and off camera.

Usually film crews don’t make use of the chefs, bringing their own catering staff with them.

Staff say they very much enjoy the glitz and glamour when crews come to film, praising The Crown team for their professionalism.

And sometimes they are lucky enough to get on camera.

Assistant general manager Richard Chebbi was asked to play a waiter in 2017 Benedict Cumberbatch film The Child in Time about a couple whose young child is kidnapped.

He told the Telegraph: ‘I thought “My big break! My way out of the restaurant trade!”‘

Mr Chebbi’s role was to walk up to Cumberbatch’s table and pour him wine, but he later discovered only his hand had been left in the shot. 

Smith & Wollensky is also very popular with film stars in its regular role, with celebrities including Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, heavyweight champion boxer Anthony Joshua and singer Tom Jones all spotted enjoying dinner there

Smith & Wollensky began in New York and the London restaurant was the first to be launched outside the US when it opened in 1977.

Film stars don’t just turn up there for work. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has been spotted enjoying a steak while actor Christian Slater and his fellow cast members of West End play Glengarry Glen Ross held an opening party at the venue in late 2017.

Tom Jones has a regular table and enjoys the same Cajun fillet steak and Sam Adams beer, while Anthony Joshua celebrated his 2017 win over Wladimir Klitschko at Smith & Wollensky with his newly won world heavyweight titles.  

Last year it launched a ‘whole cow’ menu using as many cuts of meat as possible, including the ‘neglected parts’ for £325 per person. 

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