Harden's survey result
“There’s always such a buzz at any time” at the original Cecconi’s, “tucked away behind the Royal Academy” – a “bustling” and “sophisticated” all-day Italian brasserie, whose “open, bright, pavement terrace” helps make it a big favourite amongst the St James’s set, be it “for an upmarket business breakfast”, or as “a treat during a day’s shopping in the West End”. When it comes to the cooking, it “can be a bit hit or miss, but is generally good”. Nowadays owned by Soho House, the brand is being rolled out, but its diverse family of spin-offs echo rather than replicate the original. There’s a City outlet in The Ned’s capacious food hall, which like Mayfair is “fun” and “an excellent place to do business” of a less formal kind. Beyond that, the food is “reliable” but pretty “basic at the price”, and the setting can be “the noisiest ever”. A Soho pizza spot carries the name, on which there’s little feedback. New in September 2018, the Shoreditch branch is “a very good addition as a real neighbourhood restaurant”, with a “nice bar”, and a generally “winning formula”, including for brunch.
“In the magnificent surroundings of the Lutyens-designed banking hall of the old Midland Bank building”, this 3,000 square metre food hall houses seven different restaurants each with about 100 covers. It’s easy to feel lost in such a big interior though and these spaces are actually “not that ambient”, but are nonetheless very handy for a City rendezvous with OK fare. The top tips are Kaia (Asian-Pacific: “perfect for a quick lunch time meeting”); Malibu Kitchen (Californian: “some unusual and excellent brunch choices”); and Zobler’s (‘NYC’-Jewish: “comfort food that’s easy to eat”). Millie’s Lounge (British) also rates mention. Less so Cecconi’s, except on business. In each case, go with realistic expectations – otherwise you may sense “too much hype”.
If Cecil B DeMille had designed a City food court, it might have looked something like Soho House & Co’s and Sydell Group’s gob-smacking refurbishment of the banking hall of the former, Lutyens-designed, Grade I, Midland Bank HQ, just next to the Bank of England. With 850 covers split between seven different operations, it is long on glamour, short on cosiness, and feels like the ginormous hotel foyer that it now is. The food offering mixes existing brands – like Cecconi’s – with those created for the operation: Millie’s Lounge (British), The Nickel Bar (American), Zobler’s Delicatessen (‘NYC’-Jewish), Malibu Kitchen (Californian), Kaia (Asian-Pacific) and Café Sou (French). Members bypass all that ‘open air’ eating for the cosier ‘Lutyens Grill’ (a steakhouse) or head for one of the two club bars, either in the roof, or the old bank vaults.
|Wine per bottle||£29.00|