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39-45 Shaftesbury Avenue
Set up by the Soho House group, Café Monico adds a much-needed sense of occasion to the Shaftesbury Avenue scene, with classic styling and a broad menu befitting its position between two major West End theatres. What was the double-height Avalon nightclub has had a mezzanine level added, with the upper level radiating around a central bar and blown-glass chandelier. Well-dressed “knowledgeable” staff run the show, jazz bubbles away in the background and swathes of green leather add a touch of class. Overseen by London veteran Rowley Leigh (founder of Kensington Place), the menu covers all the bases: in the evening, you might find devilled kidneys, crispy-topped spinach lasagne and Leigh’s signature – moreish Parmesan custard with chewy anchovy toast. Sea bass comes with black cabbage, while meaty lamb is paired with merguez sausages, chickpeas and a lightly spiced sauce. A short cocktail list offers refined classics, and the wine list provides ample mid-priced choice.
Best afternoon tea in London
SquareMeal 2 Stars
Best French Restaurants in London
Pre and post-theatre dining
39-45 Shaftesbury Avenue
Piccadilly Circus Tube Station 200m
Leicester Square Tube Station 249m
Queen's Theatre 14m
Gielgud Theatre 17m
Mon-Fri 8am-12M Sat-Sun 9am-1am (Sun -12M)
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 3
T be fair we came with our eyes fully open, having seen a review and looked at the menu. And arriving there were no surprises; certainly brasserie style, A woody downstairs area for bar and eating, and a more "restauranty" upper floor , balcony style . Seems similar to and a little smaller than the "Deux Salons" near Charing Cross that we've used quite a few times .
We'd been sufficiently puzzled by the plethora of menus to call after making our reservation online to find out exactly what we'd be entitled to on the day. We've been caught by this before you see- turned up at a Brasserue in London for a proper lunch to be told we had to choose from a brunch menu that contained a few desultory gestures in the direction of a real lunch. Didn't happen here I'm pleased to say and the voice on the phone informed us that we could have both the brunch menu and the "all day" menu to choose from And why not, if they have an all day menu, then surely it has to be available all day? Some memories of a place we ate lunch recently in New Zealand , which offered an "all day breakfast" between 8 and 2!. Anyway none of that here, they gave us the brunch menu and when asked only slightly reluctantly brought the All Day menu too- which does have more "lunch " choices.
The menu was pretty much what you might expect from a brasserie. My starter of grilled octopus with chickpeas has nicely cooked octopus but the chickpeas and the sauce they were in were not so good- sticky and flavourless. My main course of confit chicken with sausage and beans wasn't good- the chicken tasted as if it had been plain roasted , the sausage was chorizo, and the beans pretty much flavourless. I was wondering why they didn't call it "cassoulet" or similar ( I love cassoulet) and now I know. Meanwhile my wife thought her pasta with lamb ragu and dessert of rhubarb sorbet was decent. We had a bottle of their cheapest red (£22) which was pleasant if served a little warm, and a bill for a little over £80 including service but no coffee. Service was smiley and helpful throughout. Decent bread.
Go back? Well this is food as fuel not anything close to a gastronomic experience. I've had this sort of food cooked a lot better that this But maybe pre-theatre? Who knows? The food I ate will not positively drag me back there I'm afraid.. .
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