Cecconi's is a classic, old school, slightly glamorous and definitely-good-for-celebrity- spotting restaurant in the heart of Mayfair. It's the type of place to drop in at the bar for an excellent bowl of pasta and champagne, or a fine veal milanese, after a hard day's perusing the diamond jewellers and designer wares of New Bond Street. As you do.
TPG and I did just that (although unfortunately my hands were glaringly rockless and frockless at the time, despite my best efforts). The stripey black and white floor and green leather seats with art deco fittings give it a certain charm and its easy to while away an hour or so at the bar with a book, or to settle in for a longer session with friends at a table.
As I was largely feasting on champagne on our last visit, I snacked on a cichetti sized plate of plump baby octopus with dreamily creamy polenta (£8) - even TPG, who won't normally eat polenta, lapped it up. TPG had a fantastic bowl of perfectly cooked spaghetti lobster which, while pricey, put most the attempts of most other similarly priced establishments to shame (£26). Generous amounts of sweet, fresh lobster meat and rich tomatoes flirted with satisfyingly al dente strings of pasta. Why is it so hard for other restaurants to make Italian food this good?
Starters are priced around £7-£12, pasta at £10-£20 (or £26 for the spaghetti lobster) and mains at £19-£28 - fair prices for the location, setting and quality.
We've had breakfast at Cecconi's several times before, when the venue somehow loses most of its charm and serves up far more boring fare and average coffee. Stick to bubbly at the bar, or the lunch and dinner menu. The £46 set menu (3 courses) has just made my "to do" list.
Cecconi's, 5a Burlington Gardens, Mayfair, London W1S 3EP (Tel: 020 7434 1500)