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Despite being a sibling to the smarter, more established Manicomio next door, this funky little Italian café isn’t just an extension of the existing restaurant. It asserts its separate identity with a huge counter display of daytime bites and take-home pick-me-ups, which emphasises its more informal nature. Breakfast can be booked in advance, making it perfect for morning meetings. Food options cover the savoury to the sweet, including smoked salmon, buratta, onion, watercress and caper brioche and waffles with strawberries, granola and creme fraiche. Come the afternoon, there are some heartier options: seared yellow fin tuna with Sicillian caponata was fresh and filling, while the Parma ham, mozzarella and tomato panini was big on portion size and flavour. Don’t skip the homemade cakes though; go for the light and fluffy carrot cake or the deliciously rich cheesecake. Just because Manicomio Café is ideal for a quick foodie fix doesn’t mean you have to grab and go: its 30-seat conservatory and private alfresco terrace, plus its enticing wine list, will convince you to linger a while.
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20 June 2013
When your little tootsies are sore from hobbling in your high heels up and down the Kings Road, shopping/Middleton spotting, then Manicomio is a good place for a civilised pitstop. Don't get confused by the Manicomio restaurant next door (which is also good but better for dinner), or put off by what appears to be a chi-chi deli which takes up the front part of Manicomio Poco. Totter through to the tightly-packed conservatory at the back where the menu has, no surprises, a range of waist-friendly salads, some small deli-ish items (grilled aubergine etc) and sourdough type sarnies. Ok the food here isn't going to fill you up to bursting, but who wants a bloated tum before trying on jeans in Joseph (er, or Zara) anyway? Actually my last salad, which was beautifully fresh tasting, was more substantial than I expected and enough to get the blood sugar levels back up to retail-raid-ready. Service is very friendly and will steer you to the buggy-friendly zone (a long bar of 6 seats in a marginally less awkward tight spot than all the awkward tight spots) if you have come en famille. Most of the clientele is female but it's a friendly place (it has to be with tables that close) so I'm sure boys and men would be welcome, if they can find it. Whilst you might spend a Gucci-clad arm and Louboutin-attired leg eating out in much of Chelsea, a lunch here won't bleed you completely dry of all your blue-blood: light lunch for two including soft drink/coffee and service clocked in at under £30 on my last visit. Plenty left in the wallet for a whistle-stop at Whistles then…
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