Harden's survey result
“Brash but fun” Italian bar and brasserie in Mayfair where “the people watching is good”, and where “a window table, especially when the front is open in summer, is the best place to be”. Service can be “slightly dismissive” and “it’s not the greatest food, but it’s worth it for the buzz”, and particularly popular for business entertaining, notably as “a go-to venue for breakfast with clients”. Owned by Soho House, it has been rolled out as a global brand, but how well its expansion goes within London remains to be seen. The year-old venture in The Ned (see also) is a bit of a non-event (“a business Italian with City prices, but nothing exceptional in the food”); and it’s still early days for its ‘Pizza Bar’ in Soho, or its September 2018 opening in Redchurch Street, Shoreditch.
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!”
“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”).
Cecconi’s Restaurant Diner Reviews
"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."
"Decent Italian - slightly limited menu"
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