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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.
Cafe Monico is one of the latest Soho openings and I fell in love with it as soon as I walked in the door. A large central bar beckons you in and sparkling chandeliers and mirrors, polished floors and large comfy chairs all add their welcome. The restaurant is upstairs set around the edges with tables at the front overlooking the buzzing activity of Shaftesbury Avenue.
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