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Cafe Deco

  • Restaurants
  • Bloomsbury
  • price 2 of 4
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
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Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

Anna Tobias heads up a deceptively casual but creative spot in the Bloomsbury back streets where perfect produce is the star

From the haunted hotels straight out of the pages of Patrick Hamilton, to its grand but empty garden squares and tatty Georgian terraces strewn with blue plaques boasting of dead pre-Raphaelite brothers and even deader literary salon-hosting authoresses, Bloomsbury is a true timewarp in the middle of central London.

Café Deco leans into the area’s decidedly vintage vibe and endearingly dusty brand of glamour. Living up to its name thanks to a 1930s-worthy sage-green awning, curved salmon-pink bar and pastel tiling underfoot, this cosy, casual – and notably small – spot can be found on the same side street as gleefully odd occult bookstore Treadwell’s.   

The result is something akin to an elevated version of a National Trust café, populated with off-duty architects and sentient Margaret Howell linen trousers 

Opening amid lockdowns in 2020, Café Deco managed to weather the storm of Covid to quietly become one of central London’s go-to dining rooms. Its success, in part, is thanks to its immaculate lineage as a joint venture between the team behind the always-excellent 40 Maltby Street and chef-owner Anna Tobias, who cultivated her love of perfect veg and pristine produce at Shoreditch favourite Rochelle Canteen. The result is something akin to an elevated version of a National Trust café, populated with off-duty architects, sentient Margaret Howell linen trousers and coffee-sipping couples in matching thick-framed glasses feasting on ingredient-led European cuisine with a particular emphasis on French and Italian cult classics.

Dining here alone on a Friday lunchtime made me feel even more like the feisty heroine of a BBC period drama who wants to wear trousers and cycle bikes and definitely not marry the man her dreadful father wants her to. A single slice of salt cod brandade toast only added to the Edwardian illusion, the warm, white-fish purée the kind of food you might be served while being nursed back to health following a regrettable bout of TB. Not too rich and not too salty, it achieved Goldilocks levels of ‘just right’. The tangy fish soup which followed was emboldened by an indulgent red rouille and a winter tomato, borlotti bean and farro salad managed to be both rustic and elegant, the tomatoes cooked just enough to become jammy and super-sweet, but still hold their shape. Puddings are decidedly old school: fudgy banoffee pie, zingy crêpes suzette and a rhubarb jelly and ice cream with a brandy snap biscuit. 

Food at Café Deco is almost disconcertingly simple – verging on the trad – but it’s the ingredients here that are the real champs, with Tobias working closely with small farms to ensure unparalleled quality and winning every time.  

The vibe The coolest National Trust café you’ve ever been to. 

The food Elevated, ingredient-led Euro cult classics. Think egg mayonnaise, nice things on toast and hearty but stylish soups.  

The drink Expertly curated European wines by the bottle and glass. Lots of Italian stuff, even more French. 

Time Out tip Evenings finish early here, at 9.30pm – better to show up for lunch and make an early afternoon of it before rolling into the British Museum three glasses of Chenin Blanc deep. 

Leonie Cooper
Written by
Leonie Cooper


43 Store St
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