The three things I like most about Cecconi’s are the jade green leather chairs, their rabbit ragu, and sitting at their bar drinking Proseco on tap.
As I mostly stay in Mayfair when I’m in London, Cecconi’s is always on the list for lunch. (The Wolseley is for breakfast/brunch, Cecconi’s is for late lunch/post-shopping glass of vino), always somewhere else for dinner.
I’m not sure why I don’t think of Cecconi’s as somewhere I’d eat dinner, but it’s never even occurred to me to do it.
Since so many hedge funds have gone pop in London, I can only assume that it’s not quite so crowded for lunch, but I still prefer to go post-2pm so it’s a little less busy, and I know I don’t need to book ahead.
Food: Italian. They serve a very wide variety of dishes, breakfast through dinner. There’s something for everyone, and the ingredients are top notch.
They have a tapas bar that serves Venetian specialities all day, and the carpaccios are real good too.
When it’s cold outside nothing beats a bowl of their rich, gamey rabbit ragu, and I have to admit to usually asking for it with mash rather than pasta, and was pleased to find out the first time I asked that I am not alone in this rather Irish request.
Drinks: Their wine list has a strong bent towards Italy. There are near 20 wines/champagnes served by glass and 10 served by carafe which is very useful. Bottles of wine are all over £25, and as they are catering to the Hedgey crowd they do have a long and wide list. My usual lunching companion also very much enjoys their Bloody Mary’s.
Ambience: Lunch is always packed, and it’s best to book ahead. There are generally two types of people who come here at this time – finance bods, and ladies who are shopping on Bond Street – so it’s a mixture of mullets, gout, pearls and Birkins.
My favourite place to perch is at the bar. A wonderful solid marble affair where you can chat to the staff, see them preparing the tapas and I just like the general sociability of it all.
Service: Waiters are very friendly and accommodating in my experience – not even a sniff when I ask for mash in an Italian restaurant.
We have received short shrift when we’ve turned up without a booking bang on lunchtime though. The receptionists can be a bit jaded when they are busy…
Cost: It’s Mayfair, and it’s part of the Soho House group, so it’s not cheap. We don’t usually get out with paying less than £50 for lunch for two, and that’s keeping it to a drink and a pasta. Easy to rack up the bill if you are there drinking and snacking for a couple of hours, as it just puts you in the mood to kick back and enjoy yourself.
Location: 5 Burlington Gardens, Mayfair. Tel: 0207 434 1500