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Cecconi’s became an overnight sensation when it opened its Mayfair doors back in 1978. Since then, several Cecconi’s restaurants have opened, much to the delight of Italophiles around the globe, with Cecconi’s, City of London being the latest. Without a doubt, the food held its own against the backdrop of exceptional décor and style of The Ned.
Tiger rating: 4.5/5
Great for: Breakfasts, business lunches, after-work suppers, after-work drinks
A bit of background
Enzo Cecconi was the youngest ever general manager of Venice’s world-famous Cipriani before he opened his doors in Mayfair back in 1978. Bringing the delights of Italian fare to Londoners with a theatrical twist and notes of Venetian sophistication, Cecconi’s was an overnight hit and was soon the go-to hangout for A-listers and royals alike.
If you haven’t yet been to The Ned or are familiar with the building, it is worth a mention. Minutes from Bank Station and the bustle of the City, you walk into what feels like an extravagant 1920’s film set. The former Midland Bank’s banker hall boasts 3,000 square metres of space, emphasised by its incredibly high ceilings and some 92 verdite columns. It’s no wonder that nine restaurants fit comfortably. Soho House Group have preserved the 1924 building perfectly; the website even encourages you to go in search of the building’s ‘secrets’, such as the vault. Hidden behind the bank’s original 20 tonne door is the vault bar – also home to some 3,800 safety deposit boxes which line its walls.
Sitting in the Cecconi’s corner of the great hall, it was truly difficult to order from such an impressive menu. As we ordered, I was amazed at how well we could hear one another in such a huge space. (I wondered how they must have reached the decision that housing a potential 1000 covers in one space wouldn’t be too much for the ear drums to bear.) Sipping on a delicious chardonnay from northern Italy, we awaited our Italian fate. The signature tuna tartare and the calamari fritti arrived promptly. The calamari was cooked just as it should: tender and succulent, encased in a flawless crunchy light batter. The tuna was fresh and succulent. If I had to criticise, the tuna dish might have been a little more flavourful. The chilli didn’t add to the dish other than its vibrant red colour; I’d hoped the capers to add more salty punch; and the rocket was fine.
The main event
When in Rome, one must order the pasta. Out came the crab ravioli and lobster linguini. The pasta was absolutely delicious on both sides. The crab ravioli was a dish I had enjoyed in other establishments but Cecconi’s do it differently. Within these little perfect pouches was just crab! No ricotta, no herb, no spring onion. Just crab. This dish evidently tips its hat to the subtle flavour of crab meat, and I loved it. The simplicity of it was the perfect accompaniment to the pasta and delicious sauce. It was perfect. If my boss wasn’t in attendance I might have ordered another one.
My colleague ordered the lobster linguini which was nothing short of theatrical as it entered stage left on to the table. An impressive lobster tail nuzzled picture-perfect cherry tomatoes and al dente linguini which wrapped itself around generous morsels of tender lobster and rich sauce. Sadly, the sauce was slightly too rich, so she wasn’t able to finish.
As we nursed our full bellies and congratulated ourselves on our good fortunes, the dessert menu arrived. After the compulsory, ‘oh no but I couldn’t possibly’’s, we committed to sharing a lemon tart and vanilla ice cream. Sweet, Sour, Crunchy and Smooth danced on that plate in perfect unison.
I want an excuse to go back, and pronto. Cecconi’s at The Ned won’t fail to impress the most discerning of gastronomes. If you’re a PA looking to book a sure thing for your boss and clients, or a Private PA requiring an impressive venue and food combo in the City, look no further.