Cafe Monico, restaurant review: ‘Vintage extravagance and fine food in the West End’

Cafe Monico

Cafe Monico - Credit: Archant

Does Theatreland need a new restaurant? Probably not, but regardless, Cafe Monico has arrived in the heart of the West End.

Cafe Monico

Cafe Monico - Credit: Archant

Nestled between two theatres in Shaftesbury Avenue, the stunning 1930s-style mezzanine interior – complete with an impressive glass chandelier – makes it feel as if the place has been here forever, serving gentlemen in bowler hats and women dripping in fringe at the turn of the century.

In fact, it’s been open just a few weeks, serving up French-Italian cuisine and filing a void left by sister bistro Cafe Boheme after it recently closed for refurbishment until 2018.

Monico is a more upmarket offering from the Soho House group than many of its other eating destinations though – particularly its more ubiquitous fast food joints, which include millennial favourites Dirty Burger and Chicken Shop.

We were given plum seats overlooking the bar area below, and started as we meant to go on with a peach bellini, priced £8.

It was perhaps less boozy than others I’ve sampled over the years, but it served as a refreshing and decadent start to our meal.

The all-day menu is enormous and made up of – mostly French – classics, but I couldn’t resist the chance to try my very first oyster to start.

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Advised to try the smaller Fines de Claires variety by our knowledgeable waitress, they were presented beautifully on a traditional silver platter on a bed of ice (£14 for six).

Tasting fresh of the sea, I enjoyed them best with the accompaniments: a splash of mild Tabasco sauce, a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of a tangy onion dressing.

My guest meanwhile opted for the chef’s speciality, Parmesan custard with anchovy toast (£8): a fun play on dippy eggs. The dippers were robust enough to have a good dunk in the pot of cheesy goodness.

Onto the mains, and my spaghetti lobster (£22) from the Italian portion of the menu was deliciously rich, with the pasta swamped in a moreish and silky smooth bisque, with generous amounts of succulent lobster meat.

But the winner was my guest’s buttery but light Dover Sole (£29), which had a lovely crispy finish to add some welcome texture.

We finished with a decadent and moreish chocolate cake called Sachertorte (£7), and a strawberry vacherin coupe (£6) – basically a posh take on an Eton Mess, which I wolfed down happily.

Theatre goers looking to treat themselves to fine food in exquisite surroundings should look no further than Cafe Monico.

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