What? With restaurants, already in Mayfair and others across Europe and America, Venetian restaurant Cecconi’s has just opened another site in The Ned. If you’ve somehow managed to miss The Ned, then it’s arguably the biggest opening of 2017. The work of London-based Soho House & Co and New York’s Sydell Group, it’s a 252- room hotel set in the iconic former Midland Bank building designed by Sir Edwin ‘Ned’ Lutyens in 1924.
New? In hotel time, yes, The Ned only opened a few months ago, making it one of the many hotels that have opened in London this year.
Where? Cecconi’s City of London, The Ned, 27 Poultry, Bank, EC2R 8AJ, www.thened.com
On the Menu: The menu is simplistic, with a handful of dishes under each category. The descriptions are rather minimal too, just lists of ingredients, think: broad beans, mint, pecorino; spaghetti lobster; salmon, Jersey Royals, Dill and spicy salami, tomato – classic Italian dishes, but the menu keeps its cards to its chest.
First Impressions: The Ned certainly sweeps you up in its atmosphere and its Art-Deco glamour. There’s a different sort of excited buzz to it that you don’t find at the other Soho House properties. I’m guessing it could be because it’s open to the public and because it’s had so much of a build-up prior to its opening, that it’s attracted a much wider audience – you’ve got men in suits propping up the bar, tourists who have added it to their sightseeing list and those dressed up to the nines looking to be seen at such an establishment.
The Look: Housed in the former headquarters of the Midland Bank building, the lobby at The Ned is where the majority of the action, that us non-members can experience. Seven of the nine restaurants are in the vast lobby, which is divided up by 92 columns and counters not walls. The space is a mix of marble, polished floors, chesterfield banquettes, high bar stools, low lighting and whilst the colours of the restaurants are different there is a synergy between them– muted reds, malachite greens, tan browns and dusty pinks. It’s got an old school grandeur and charm to it, like a grand café of Europe on a major scale.
What We Ate: We started with meaty beef and veal meatballs in a rich tomato sauce, which on reflection were the highlight of the meal. Salmon tartare was chunky and there were so many vinegary leaves mixed in with it, it all just looked rather clumsy and not in line with the fine dining experience that Cecconi’s is going for. That said, our other starter of burrata, tomato and basil was much better.
Veal Milanese was huge and rather dry (in terms of size, you get your money’s worth – it’s£31), it just needed something, anything to give it a little moisture, in the end it became rather monotonous to eat. I envied my friend’s wild seabass with clams and sea purslane which she said was actually, rather good. Zucchini fritte needed to be thinner and crispier but at least the sautéed spinach was done well – although it would be worrying if this staple wasn’t.
Moving onto pudding, the tiramisu was excellent, despite being at least twice the size it needed to be and profiteroles were a safe choice too, but nothing to get excited about.
Service was in parts excellent, they were friendly and attentive, in other parts they missed the mark. Side plates were forgotten for the bread, as were serving spoons for the meatballs. Unused wine glasses remained on the table and the plate that my friend was given for her clam shells was removed half way through, leaving her to pile up the shells on the edge of the plate – not a disaster obviously, but just unnecessary.
What We Drank: There are just a couple of sparkling wines available by the glass (many more are available by the bottle including Italian sparling wines) so we started with a glass of Perrier Jouet, Grand Brut NV before moving on to a crisp glass of Broglia Gavi di Gavi La Meirana, whilst my friend chose a glass of Castel Firmian, Merlot, Mezzacorona.
Go With: Take someone who hasn’t experience The Ned yet, the food might not have ticked every box, but the sheer vastness of The Ned is bound to impress.
Final Word: Is The Ned worth going to? Yes, definitely. Is Cecconi’s worth it? This time, we’d say only to soak up the atmosphere.
Cecconi’s City of London: The Ned, 27 Poultry, Bank, EC2R 8AJ