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”.
“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!”
Cecconi’s Restaurant Diner Reviews
"We always come here after a trip to the Royal Academy and find it excellent. The staff are friendly and the food is consistently good. They try to squeeze you in if you have no reservation but it is understandably popular with local business people."
"This is a great place for breakfast or brunch tucked away behind the Royal Academy of Arts. The restaurant has a sophisticated and calming atmosphere and the service is always polite with the food of a very high standard."
"Favorite for up market business breakfast. Simple food executed well. Smart, attentive and understated service to satisfy the St James's set. An open, bright pavement side view."
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