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Cafe Monico

Restaurants, Contemporary European Shaftesbury Avenue
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(28user reviews)
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Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

A double-height grand cafe from the Soho House group.

Forget Tardises and DeLoreans. If you fancy a spot of time travel, step through the doors of Café Monico. This new ‘grand café’ has been styled in the manner of the belle époque, France’s so-called ‘beautiful age’ (pub quizzers: we’re talking 1870-ish until the outbreak of the First World War), a time when art, culture and ‘society’ flourished. So yes: wood panelling, cosy lighting and bartenders in crisp white straight-off-a-washing-powder-ad jackets. But this is no vintage bore: the music is loud and jazzy, the room bustling. It is, after all, from the Soho House crew, who know a thing or two about creating a buzz. But one thing they’ve never been strong on – as anyone who ever ate at Café Boheme will attest – is delivering plates of classic French food. Until now.

It’s tempting to put this down to new group exec chef Rowley Leigh, he of Kensington Place (a fave of Princess Di’s) and later Le Café Anglais (a brasserie that proved shopping centre restaurants don’t have to be crap). Sure enough, when I look at the menu, his signature parmesan custard with anchovy toast waves hello. But of everything I ate, this was the biggest disappointment, a shadow of the original, with loose, wobbly custard and a plate of too-timid toast.

Happily, the rest was elegant and comforting: think Chanel Slanket (relax, Herr Lagerfeld, it’s just a metaphor). The menu here plays to the crowd like a Vegas regular, offering up a greatest hits of Continental cooking, with French brasserie fare the main act.

There’s a plate of fat, juicy prawns, chargrilled in their half-shells: buttery, garlicky, spiked with chilli and chives. Then a huge leg of confit chicken – terrific value at £14 – served with creamy haricot beans and slivers of smoked sausage. And, best of all, a sensational Austrian Sachertorte – this time with a seam of raspberry compote, rather than the traditional apricot jam – to offset the moist, indulgent chocolate cake.

But my favourite bit of Café Monico is actually upstairs. When, I arrived, rain-bedraggled and ten minutes late, to be told that our table was on the first floor, my heart sank. Everyone knows that in this part of town – pick-pocketing distance from the Trocadero – street level is best, with other floors used to banish anyone walking in wearing socks with their sandals. But here, it’s a gallery that hugs the sides of the double-height room, looking down – like swish seats at the theatre – onto the the counter bar below. Café Monico: a beautiful blast from the past.

Details

Address: 39-45 Shaftesbury Avenue
London
W1D 6LA
Transport: Tube: Piccadilly Circus
Contact:
Opening hours: Mon-Thu 8am-midnight; Fri 8am-1am; Sat 9am-1am; Sun 9am-midnight
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Users say (28)

4 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

4.2 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:7
  • 4 star:20
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|28
1 person listening

Always love coming here, been 3 times and never ceased to be amazed by the atmosphere and decor. 

tastemaker

Brillaint spot for lunch, dinner, tea and delicious food. 


Very well prepared food with a lot of attention to details in the typical French brassiere style, this is also a suitable place to impress your business clients. A great spot to meet friends too. The menu is extensive with various set menus to suit your budget.


Start your meal with a glass of fizz and let yourself be transported to an era of fine dining in Paris... and prepared to be enchanted.


Lovely space, however the food is incredibly salty. Cheap lunch deal, overall good but not exceptional. 

tastemaker

Having spent the majority of my childhood in France, I’ve grown to really appreciate French cuisine. One of my favourite comfort foods from this beautiful country is the classic Croque Madame. It is exactly the same as a Croque Monsieur but with an added fried egg on top. Nothing compares to this heavenly combination of ham and cheese toasted in white bread (sometimes even made like French Toast!) and a delicious egg on the top!


I had previously seen pictures and even videos of the Croque Madame at Cafe Monico and immediately knew I had to give it a try. In particular, it was a picture of the cross-section of this sandwich that convinced me I had to come have it for myself. The perfect opportunity came about, so I decided to grab lunch with a friend as a ‘pre-results day’ celebration.


Not only were expectations met but I was pleasantly surprised by how delicious this simple dish was made here. An order of the Croque Madame comes on its own, but that’s plenty to be honest! The fried egg on top was perfect – brown and crispy edges along the rim of the egg white from being fried well and the yolk was still slightly runny and had a luscious deep orange colour. The sandwich itself was equally perfect – the crust was left on (which I normally don’t like, but with this dish, it’s a must!), the bread was toasted/pan-fried well, and the ham and cheese combination inside did not disappoint. The cheese melted nicely and was spread evenly around the sandwich making each bite filled with a delicious creaminess! The portion size was also just nice for me – cheese can be quite filling for me because I’m lactose intolerant, so I do feel rather bloated after having it but will pull through nonetheless. (The words of a true foodie right there!).


Although I was more than capable of finishing this sandwich on my own, my friend and I shared it so we could have a taste of different dishes. My friend had one of the set menus, the Monico Menu, and went for 3 courses.


For the starter, we went for the Salmon Carpaccio. This came as thinly sliced salmon carpaccio topped with fresh red chillies, micro greens, capers, and radish. It was a rather refreshing starter and light, which I appreciated. In terms of taste, it was pretty standard but it looked visually appealing.


For the main dish, we ordered the Bavette. This came with a serving of fries, which were amazing. They had a crispy exterior, browned nicely on the edges, and soft and fluffy on the inside. They weren’t too oily either, which was nice because it didn’t make my stomach feel heavy afterwards. The Bavette was cooked medium, which was quite good – it wasn’t tough, it was sliced into decently sized pieces and it was tasty on its own. I could tell that the béarnaise sauce that came with it was homemade and even though I don’t normally like this sauce, I couldn’t help myself from dipping the occasional pieces of bavette and fry into it! I liked that the condiments were already available on the table – I like to eat my beef with Dijon mustard and that was perfect.


For dessert, we kept it fresh and light like how we started with the Rhubarb Sorbet. This came served with a piece of dark chocolate with desiccated coconut. Both were delicious but I’m not sure how well the two paired together. I could taste the tartness from the Rhubarb in the sorbet, which I enjoyed because it shows that not too much additional sugar was added into it, keeping it natural.


Overall, the food was at a pretty good standard. My favourite would still have to be the Croque Madame because it’s such a simple dish and they executed it well. I truly enjoyed it and will definitely be coming back for it any time I’m in need of my fix or for some true French comfort food. The interior decor and atmosphere were lovely – it was classy yet casual. We had a table upstairs by the window, which was brilliant. Loads of natural lighting shining in, especially since it was a warm and sunny day. The service was good too, with our waitress paying us close attention and the food coming out in decent time. I liked that they served us a bread basket with butter while waiting for our food to arrive. Rest assured I’ll be back, Cafe Monico!

Tastemaker

I stumbled across Café Monico when I was trying to find a central restaurant to catch up with a friend (shout out to Time Out Black).


I walked in and felt like stepping into a different world - the whole restaurant has its on special vibe and you could sit there for hours without noticing the time that goes by.

Our waiter was really polite and lovely - at some places you feel like you are treated differently when you walk in with a discount card, but not at Café Monico.


You are being served complementary baguette as a starter - which you just can't refuse. Although I am always a little wary about being a vegetarian in a French restaurant there was no reason for me to panic. I even had trouble deciding what to choose and settled for the Artichoke, Courgette and gremolata with fries on the side. My friend ordered the Moules (served in a lovely Le Creuset pot).


The quality of both food and wine was great and we had a great evening.


What a venue, you totally forget that you are actually in London. You feel definitely like in Paris, from the first step in and the last moment leaving. Even the waiter and waitresses are looking so chic ;)  Coming to the main part; the food which starter is a beautiful baguette (which I think you cant get anywhere more french than there) and some butter. Super cross, soft and full of flavours. We had fish and the duck confit as mains, both took a little but the restaurant was rammed so I don't blame them. Quality and taste was lovely just a bit small portions and you definitely need some sides if you're hungry.

Tastemaker

Cafe Monico is a real gem on the Time Out Black card promotion; central location, fantastic service, quality options for vegetarians as well as meat-eaters and well-made drinks, too. The 50% off food makes it obscenely good quality for a perfectly-cooked Sirloin steak, chips and a. Eautifully buttery Bearnaise sauce for about a pound more than you'd pay for the same at a Wetherspoons these days. Only thing to bear in mind is that the set-menus are not included as part of the promotion, as this would be frankly

insane.


I'm not keen on the total touristic-nous of the location but it's like a dark French bar with beautifully made cocktails and very gentlemanly service. It's not loud and you can have a private chat while watching the world go by. Great place post dinner for cocktails.

tastemaker

After hearing and reading so much about this place I decided to take destiny into my own hands and sample the goods. I was pleasantly surprised! By not only the interesting options I received but the amount of flavour they infused into the dishes! If you have a timeout black card you get 50% off which is a winner ... I'd highly recommend it for lunch! You may need to waddle back into the office but you'll do it with a smile on your face.

Tastemaker

What a fantastic find in the heart of Leicester Square, I must have walked past this place a million times and never noticed it. When I found out it was 50 percent off with a time out black card, I thought I must try it! It's a French bistro, from the outside it doesn't look like anything fancy, but as soon as you walk In, there's amazing decor inside, with a. Fancy bar and a grand chandelier. Service was impeccable from the beginning to the end. I had the steak and ye chocolate bombe, both were fantstico! I will definitely be back!

tastemaker

Cafe Monico is a lovely restaurant especially the upstairs which is slightly grander. The staff were pleasant and the food was fantastic. I would highly recommend.

Tastemaker

Having heard great things about Cafe Monico and also being a holder of a Time Out Black membership, I felt the need to make the pilgrimage to this popular haunt. The perfect opportunity arose with the visit of my mum and her friend, so we trotted along last Saturday evening. 


We arrived early, but the staff were absolutely brilliant, swiftly taking our coats and numerous bags and showing us to the bar where we waited for our table. Immediately we felt at home with the friendly and welcoming barman. When we reached our table, the excellent service continued. Continuous deliveries of fresh bread (which was divine) set us off on the right foot and the food was also served very quickly. I had steak, which was divine, the others had Coq au Vin, which my mum went as far as saying it's probably the best she's ever had, which is praise indeed as it's one of her fave dishes! The desserts were equally delicious, I can highly recommend the chocolate bombe! 


The ambiance is lovely too, despite being near the tourist trap of Leicester Square, you wouldn't know it as you're transported into the age of elegance Belle Epoque era. Highly highly recommend, I can't wait to visit again!


I took my partner and both parents for a late lunch on Saturday. We arrived 30mins earlier, and were happy to wait at the bar if the table wasn't ready. However, the wait staff were lovely, took our coats and showed us straight to our table upstairs - without any fuss. Inside decor is lovely - the upstairs is even better!
The service was impeccable from the moment we sat down, we all enjoyed the food, though I found the crab ravioli a bit too rich so I couldn't finish it. Partner had mussels and frites, portion was so big, we all ended up sharing. 

A great place, I would definitely come again with the TimeOut Black, the 50% food discount makes it an amazing deal!

Recommend!

Tastemaker

I liked Cafe Monico so much I went twice in twenty four hours. True story. My first experience was on a Saturday night with five friends and my trusty Time Out Black card (which gets you 50% off food for you and three friends). @jutney is exactly right - the restaurant is on one of the busiest tourist trap streets of London - Shaftesbury Avenue, but if you blink as you walk past you could miss it. 


Once inside you're in for a treat - it's a smart looking brasserie on two levels with a magnificent bar in the centre. The key feature is a large chandelier which hangs over the bar and it's rather stunning. 


Expect straightforward, tasty French food. I had the chicken liver pate to start which was delicious, and then a sirloin steak for main with chips and bearnaise sauce. The chips were to die for! We washed the food down with some cocktails (I especially enjoyed the extra large bellinis) and some wine with dinner. Some of the other girls I was with had desserts which looked pretty good too. 


The next morning I was meeting other friends in Soho for brunch. I'd had such a good time at Cafe Monico the night before I took them back! Brunch was delicious and the scrambled eggs were near on perfection. 


I love this place, can't wait to take my family here for our next get together. 

Tastemaker

Because of its location – touristy hell –, to enter this café is quite a (great) surprise. The staff is super welcoming and friendly, and the old café/pub vibe is quite warm. I had booked and they put us on a table upstairs, around the counter on the ground floor, with a big chandelier complementing the view. The menu is quite simple, with varied-enough options. My friend loved her sole and my Milanese was perfectly fried, not fatty at all. It was all wonderful, mainly because I had the Time Out card that gave us a big discount – the place is rather charming with good quality food... But the price is quite discouraging...


Cafe Monico brigs a little European style to Shaftesbury Avenue. Love the decor , and have only ever had good service. Tonight's dinner with my son lived up to expectations. I had Coq au Vin whilst he went for Tagliatelle with Rabbit Ragu. We both enjoyed a cold beer and relaxed conversation. 


A really good evening made even better by the saving provided by my Time Out Black card. 

I will certainly return.

Superb.  

moderator

Dropped in here for a midweek dinner (getting 50% off food with my Time Out Black card in the process) and wasn't disappointed. The classic French bistro fare is well executed, well presented and tres filling, while the smartly done-up room and gilded furniture makes you feel like you've time-hopped back to late nineteenth-century Paris. 


My only complaint is that it was all over too quickly – starters arrived within about five minutes of ordering, and mains weren't far behind. But hey, time is money in the West End, and there are plenty of places nearby to extend your evening with a cocktail.

Tastemaker

Cafe Monico is the kind of place you should take your date.


This grand and opulent cafe have been styled in a way of the French “belle époque” An era when culture and art flourished in France in the period around the 1930’s. So yes, think vintage wall panelling, soft-candlelit tables and staff with crisp white shirts and jackets. 


Don’t get the wrong impression, though. Fancy looking it may be but black ties are not required. It’s casual enough and the atmosphere is alive with the buzz of activity and noise without becoming overwhelming. I particularly love the soft lighting which creates an intimate and romantic glow around the restaurant. Perfect for a date.


A special mention should go to the waiters, waitresses and staff. All are incredibly warm and welcoming as soon as you step through the doors. Get to know your waiters/waitresses. Getting to know them does heighten your dining experience and the staff at Cafe Monico are an open and friendly bunch.


The food menu is kept pretty simple but all enticing nonetheless. I wouldn’t recommend the Veal Milanese though. Unknown to me, the veal comes deep-fried in crunchy breadcrumbs. While still delicious, I imagine there are other delicious methods of cooking veal. The drinks menu is a lot more extensive though with a tempting array of spirits, liquor, wine and cocktails to get merry on.


Reserve a table ahead of time. Situated on Shaftesbury avenue and right next door between two theatres (Apollo Theatre and Gielgud Theatre), it can quite easily get busy even if the restaurant is spacious with two floors. If possible, ask for a table on the 1st floor. It’s a gallery that overlooks the gorgeous bar below and if you’re lucky, you might also get a table by the window where you get a great view of Shaftesbury Avenue going about their business. 


An excellent restaurant right next door to the vibrant lights of Chinatown and Soho, Cafe Monico is the place I’d take a date, or for any special occasion in fact. You won’t be disappointed and you’re sure to impress.

Tastemaker

Cafe Monico is an elegant Art Deco style restaurant conveniently located on Shaftsbury Avenue. I came here with a friend for the pre-theatre menu which is served until 7pm and extremely reasonable at £18 for three courses. I ordered a strawberry and basil cocktail which was overly sweet and didn't actually taste of any basil. Also, my starter of melon and nasturtium salad didn't come with any nasturtiums. Things got better though with my main of gnocchi and a delicious raspberry almond tart for dessert. The main focus point in the restaurant is a beautiful wrap around bar and the first floor tables overlook it. Cafe Monico is a nice restaurant option in the west end that doesn't feel at all like a tourist trap.

Staff Writer

I went here for breakfast and thought it was a really nice spot, especially good if you're after somewhere central. As with everything that Soho House does they've really focused on making the decor and atmosphere of the place something special. It's beautiful, and definitely has the feel of stepping into another era. There's a huge central bar with seating around it as well as individual tables dotted around with more upstairs. My full English was spot on and I'm really tempted to go back for dinner and cocktails! 

Staff Writer

The Time Out review is spot on, it is like a spot of time travel but only in terms of styling and decor. What Cafe Monico does for time travel in styling, it delivers for choice on the menu and finesse with the food delivered to the table. The octopus and devilled kidneys as starters were immense. The Chicken paillard was superb, also the pork chop. The wine list carries some excellent choice at very reasonable prices. Albeit owned by the Soho House Group, it has potential to be a hidden gem.


Went last Friday 17/06 at lunchtime and it wasn't that busy, actually fairly quiet in the downstairs seating area. This section is great as it's informal. The food was excellent. I had the chicken paillard with artichoke with the baby artichoke, beans and tomato salad. The chicken was cooked perfectly and the salad light and very fresh. My guest had the Croque Monsieur with Bibb lettuce, radishes and lemon salad and really enjoyed that as well. I highly recommend this place for a relaxed informal dining experience right in central London.  


Great Place - Food was excellent , totally recommend to sit up in the gallery area .

Also if you fancy a cocktail then this place is a must


Cafe Monico today for a business lunch.  Very good ambience - grown-up, classy & relaxed with tasty refined modern bistro food. Set lunch at £20 for 3 courses is excellent value.  We went a la carte - scallops & broad bean puree then spiced pineapple, ice cream and pain perdu for me.  Only gripe was portion size of the scallops was a bit 'ladies who lunch' and I got the feeling it had been designed to sell starters and puddings.  The pudding however was generous as well as delicious, so maybe it was just the scallop dish which came up mean.  Service excellent.

Staff Writer

Recently visited Cafe Monico and had a great night - it was perfect for a dinner with colleagues. I had the Ragu for main which was wonderfully cooked and the meat fell apart thanks to the slow cooking. The only minor issue was portion size... I had the large portion which could have done with being a bit bigger. All in all, was a good night and i'll be going back!

Staff WriterStaff Comp

I booked cafe Monico for a work dinner as our NY colleagues were over. Ambience: it has the soho house vibe and a lovely bar in the centre with a gallery dining around above, it feels very decedent, buzzy and stylish yet relaxed. Service: the only hiccup was we were 1 hour late to sit at our table, however the manager did look after us and the service through the meal was good. Luckily we were in no hurry and enjoying the bubbles at the bar. Food: a Mediterranean fusion of Italian and French cuisine. I had the salmon carpaccio followed by the signature soho house flattened chicken. All dishes were great value for the price.

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