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.
|Venue name:||Cafe Monico||Contact:|
39-45 Shaftesbury Avenue
|Opening hours:||Mon-Thu 8am-midnight; Fri 8am-1am; Sat 9am-1am; Sun 9am-midnight|
|Transport:||Tube: Piccadilly Circus|
|Do you own this business?|
Average User Rating
4.2 / 5
- 5 star:4
- 4 star:15
- 3 star:0
- 2 star:0
- 1 star:0
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Accepts Time Out Black
Time Out Black: Cafe Monico
50% off food for members and 3 guestsThis offer can be redeemed on Mon, Tue, Wed, Sat, Sun. Don’t have Time Out Black? Get yours here.