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.
Soho House’s “vibrant” all-day Venetian-style brasserie near Old Bond Street makes “a great place to relax, take your time, and watch the world go by” and is well liked – except by a few who find it “snotty” and “arrogant” – for its “professional and fun” approach. Even many fans think its food (“pleasant in a simple sort of way”) is “expensive”, but this place is a particular favourite “for an upmarket business breakfast”.
For 30 years we've been curating reviews of the UK's most notable restaurant. In a typical year, diners submit over 50,000 reviews to create the most authoritative restaurant guide in the UK. Each year, the guide is re-written from scratch based on this survey (although for the 2021 edition, reviews are little changed from 2020 as no survey could run for that year).
Have you eaten at Cecconi’s?
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.
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all day 7 am - 1am, Sunday midnight
Last orders: 11.30 pm, Sun 10.30 pm