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“Always buzzing with pretty and interesting people” – Richard Caring’s “classy” Venetian brasserie near Old Bond Street is a “classic” Mayfair rendezvous, especially for schmoozing by Hedge Fund types. Expansion to Miami, LA etc has done nothing for standards though, and a “slide downhill” this year has tipped the always precarious balance here towards seeming complacent and overpriced. Breakfast though is “superior to other meals” and amongst the best in town: “truffled scrambled eggs – yum!”
“The central bar is a great focal point” at this “slick” and “sophisticated” brasserie, whose long opening hours (from breakfast on) and flexible Italian tapas menu help make it “a great Mayfair meeting place” (although it can feel a bit like “Hedge Fund Central”).
“For hedgies and beautiful people”, this “sublimely well-heeled” and “buzzy” all-day Italian brasserie is a key Mayfair rendezvous (especially the “superb bar”); “breakfasts are the real deal”, but otherwise “standards are average and prices steep” – “the atmosphere’s the thing”.
“Hedgies wine and dine… for breakfast (especially), lunch and dinner”, at this “entertaining”, “slick” and “incredibly busy” all-day Mayfair corner linchpin; service needs to “sharpen” up, though, and the “simple” Italian fare has too often been an “anticlimax” of late.
Some restaurant locations have a spirit all of their own, apparently independent of their owner. And most restaurant-owners have a style that shines through in all of their various locations. The latest incarnation of Cecconi's, in Mayfair - now owned by the Soho House man, Nick Jones - is therefore something of a double-whammy: both the location and the owner having historically tended to put style before substance.
Cecconi's occupies a great corner site, between Old Bond Street and Savile Row. It's been given a chic, new, it-could-be-Venice brasserie-look - including a central bar and eye-catching green leather upholstered chairs - that works very well, and the welcome is charming and professional. There is a long menu of straightforward Italian brasserie fare, which looks promising. Prices are high, but not scary. There is a hefty wine tome, with the good Italian selection you'd expect.
Now come the trade-offs. Service started well, then faded away. The food, sampled by a party of three, was almost uniformly uninspired, and in some cases, inept. Much of the mixed antipasti looked as if it had come from M&S. A risotto - which should surely be a 'signature' dish here - was dry and boring. A fish dish was such as might be cobbled together for a quick home supper' complete with undercooked boiled spuds.
Still, it was to be expected. In fact, on this site and with this owner, great cooking would have been a surprise. Long before the current régime, I complained about the cooking at the 'old' Cecconi's to a young Italian signora. She was baffled. "But, who cares", she said, "ze people are beautiful". If she visited today, she'd probably have the same reaction. Come to think of it, she'd probably like Nick Jones's other places too.
5a Burlington Gdns, London, W1S 3EP
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all day 7 am - 1am, Sunday midnight
Last orders: 11.30 pm, Sun 10.30 pm