Homeboy and I were invited to sample the Cafe Monico menu, so we decided to try out the breakfast offering this morning. I love eating at a proper, grown-up restaurant where you get quality food, crisp white table cloths and professional service. That’s exactly what we encountered this morning when we arrived at Cafe Monico. This establishment is a grand European café from Soho House with a marvellous menu. If you’re looking for places to eat near Shaftesbury Avenue, west end pre-theatre restaurants or best breakfast in W1, book yourself a table at Cafe Monico.
“Start your day the proper way with a perfectly cooked breakfast at Cafe Monico, Shaftesbury Avenue. With a winning all-day European menu and expertly mixed cocktails, it’s a great place to relax with friends before a Theatre show,” Homegirl London
Cafe Monico Menu
Soho House has collaborated with chef Rowley Leigh to devise menus for breakfast, all-day dining, pre-theatre dinner and a Sunday roast. With influences from Provence through to Northern Italian cuisine, the restaurant delivers a first-class breakfast and keeps the customers content right through to supper time.
House Press Juices
Start your day in style with the Monico Breakfast, which is their all singing and dancing English fry up. It comes packed with eggs, bacon, black pudding, mushrooms, sausage, tomatoes and toast. You also have the option to have eggs boiled (with soldiers), scrambled, poached or fried. Then you can add your extras including streaky bacon, smoked salmon and avocado if you wanted to create your version. Omelettes with bacon, cheese or mushrooms are also available. Eggs benedict, royale and Florentine, were listed. I tried the absolutely brilliant Florentine. The eggs cooked exactly how I requested, the hollandaise sauce was rich and creamy, the spinach tasted very fresh, and the muffins were toasted just right. It was breakfast heaven.
They had a few fish dishes which included smoked salmon with scrambled eggs, Manx kippers and Finnan haddock (cured with smoke usually of greenwood, turf or peat) with a poached egg. Homeboy enjoyed the latter which arrived in a hollandaise sauce. He thought this was fantastic, the fish fresh and tender and the pairing with the hollandaise was much appreciated.
Finnan Haddock with Poached Egg
Purely for photographic purposes (yeah right!) we also ordered the French toast with berries and pecan butter. We shared this substantial dish. The chunky cut eggy bread had a big helping of pecan butter on top and a scattering of berries. Homeboy picked up the plate to drink the remaining Maple syrup and got some down his clean shirt which served him right! Also on the menu was a continental breakfast with pastries, toast and preserves, fruit combinations with yoghurt, cereal and grains.
French Toast with Berries and Pecan Butter
No matter what time of the day you pop in for a meal, there will be something tasty to tempt you. The all-day menu offers shellfish including half or a dozen oysters, Atlantic prawns, dressed Dorset crab or lobster mayonnaise. Or you can go for the salumi which is Italian cold cuts. Mains include chicken paillard (pounded until the meat is thin) with artichokes, pork chop with apple and sage or sea bass with black cabbage. Crowd pleasers like Moules-Frites, rib-eye with béarnaise sauce, fish and chips and a deluxe cheeseburger with red wine shallots are on offer. If you’re after something, smaller try the croquet monsieur, madame or roast beef baguette. Pasta dishes included crab ravioli with samphire and lobster spaghetti. With salad, soups and snacks, there’s enough to keep a family or a group happy.
Steak, Chips and Béarnaise
If you’re after a bite before the theatre, you can get two courses for £15 or three courses for £18 served 12 pm until 7 pm Monday to Friday or 5 pm until 7 pm on Saturday. On Sunday you can bag yourself a roast, and they also serve afternoon tea which includes cake, scones and finger sandwiches with bubbly. Drinks-wise, you can order everything from aperitifs to cocktails (try the Cafe Monico Cobbler), champagne and the long list goes on.
Cafe Monico Interiors
I’ve never noticed this restaurant before, and I don’t know why because it is substantial. It’s right next to the Queens Theatre, so is ideal for anyone going to see a show in the area. In through the door and you’ll be greeted by someone friendly on the front desk. The restaurant is split over two floors, and the open kitchen is downstairs and so is the central bar. Around the outside is the seating with the best tables being right up against the open glass doors onto the street.
The upstairs floor is a mezzanine so you can see the bar below and a fantastic chandelier which is pretty spectacular. It’s three meters of vintage glass and brass which was sourced from an antique store in Amsterdam, so I’m told. The décor is very much a brasserie-style with comfortable green banquettes and leather studded dining chairs. The walls are panelled with dark aged oak. The flooring upstairs is a beautiful parquet wood which is made from reclaimed timber and downstairs it is tiled. With tables dressed in crisp white table cloths and a little brush down of crumbs when you’ve made a mess, it’s grown-up dining experience. I also want to say that the service was exceptional; our waiter was friendly and helped me move the plates of food to take photographs.
Cafe Monico Information
The restaurant was started in 1877 by two brothers. When their first premises were demolished to create Shaftesbury Avenue, they re-located to this prime spot. Later, their son’s ran the restaurant before it was acquired by Fortes and Co. Ltd in the fifties. Today it is owned by Soho House.
Cuisine: European brasserie-style
Price: Monico breakfast £13, eggs Florentine £8, French toast £6, half dozen oysters £13, steak and chips £20, fish and chips £17 and a cheeseburger with chips £15
Website: Cafe Monico
Address: 39-45 Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1D 6LA
Near: Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, China Town and theatre district
Open: Check the website for up to date opening times
Décor: Grand café, brasserie-style
Seating: 140 covers spread over two floors
Toilets: Yes, on both floors
Author: Homegirl London. Photographs: Homegirl London and restaurant. Thanks: Jenny Harris for inviting us to dine and sending information plus pictures. Thanks, Homeboy for dining with me this morning. Disclosure: My meal was paid for by the restaurant and it’s very much appreciated.