All reader reviews by Salt & Pepper


Thinking about where I’d like to spend my birthday, I decided that the one restaurant I had always wanted to visit was Locanda Locatelli’s . However, organisation skills being what they are, I only attempted to make the reservation on the day I wanted to go. Understandably the place was fully booked.

So the search began for a sharp Italian restaurant. The obvious choices sprang to mind, but nothing that really grabbed me, until I saw Cecconi’s – and rather than playing second fiddle to Locatelli’s, this place really would have been a first choice if I’d known about it.

The restaurant is tucked just inside the Mayfair borders and on walking through the door, you enter a grand dining experience and worry that this may be the only night out for the month while you pay back the debt ran up for the bill! Chandeliers, plush leather, individually ironed napkins and lots of diamonds and pearls.

The welcome was perfect, and we were quickly at the table. This is where I began to worry. All the reviews I read had said that this was an informal place, jeans, shirts etc – but there wasn’t an inch of denim in the place – just pressed suits, sharp shirts and polished shoes. I, on the other hand had opted for jeans and short-sleeved shirt – therefore in the waiters eyes, a student on a night out with little more than enough for soup and a small tip. This seemed to effect the whole night in terms of service – it took 45 minutes to take our order, annoying as two tables that arrived after us were pounced on and smothered with waiters oozing with smarm. We then had to ask for some bread, and just to annoy our guy I asked for water – tap water!

There was a saving grace – the food! Superb. We began with Lamb carpaccio with artichokes & pecorino. Wafer thin, fine pieces of lamb that melted in your mouth, followed by slithers of the hard cheese. Perfect. This was followed by Beef tagliata with bietoli, garlic and chilli and Aubergine parmigiana. The latter was a revelation – I really have a loathing of Aubergines, but this was incredible – meaty, solid and full of flavour.

The Tiramisu was off, which was a disappointment, so we finally finished with Italian strawberry cheesecake and a Chocolate fondant, blood orange ice cream. Both very well done, beautifully presented and enough to put us over the edge.

Wine was drunk by the glass and being cynical, but I think it was a reaction to the tap water request, I asked what he recommended and quickly had the most expensive glass offered, the 2001 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, ‘La Braccesca’, Antinori. It was fantastic, but annoying as the guy hadn’t even bothered to ask me what I was eating and liked. This was followed by a 2004 Barbera d’Asti, Prunotto, Piedmont, which was actually fuller and more complimentary with the food – so we stuck with this.

All in all a mixed report – a great looking place, great food but poor service. Either, turn up in ripped jeans and enjoy winding them all up, or opt for the traditional and don a jacket with creased slacks.

Thursday, May 31, 2007
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 7 | Service 3 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 5

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