LDNReview

Café Cecilia review image
7.9

Café Cecilia

££££

32 Andrews Rd, London
View WebsiteEarn 3X Points

Café Cecilia is an east London couture canteen. It’s a simple white-walled room, full of 35mm photographs and photographers. Hip things young and old book weeks and weeks in advance, all clucking for a table at London Fields’ hottest restaurant. It’s a scene full of beautiful people eating gorgeous deep-fried bread butter pudding with custard. The window-side tables have views of Regent's Canal while passersby peer up from street level to catch a glimpse of all the gorgeous things at the table. You can come for breakfast, lunch, or dinner… providing you’ve hustled for a table. It may well be frying the finest chips in London right now and, on a good day, it’s a restaurant that makes you feel exceedingly cool while eating cosy food. The only problem is that a good day at Café Cecilia isn’t guaranteed.

Our best meals here were early days. Yes, that’s right. The ‘before it was fashionable’ line. Trite and uncool, but true. Shortly before every pair of Margiela Tabis were trotting up Café Cecilia’s steps, we’d enjoyed leisurely lunches and tranquil breakfasts in its monochrome dining room. The former were comforting and a little decadent, the latter satisfying in the way the first meal of your day should be. Nobody wants innovation at 8am. All you need is a slab of black pudding, poached eggs, soft Guinness soda bread, and sauce. Plum ketchup just about gets a pass (though the regulars from the pub around the corner may grumble otherwise). Hearty Irish-influenced fare is the name of the game and when it lands, it’s absolutely deadly.

Café Cecilia review image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Annoyingly, that isn’t always the case. For every impeccable plate of onglet, chips, and fizzing green peppercorn sauce, there’s a faux pas in Café Cecilia’s proverbial locker. Burnt toast at breakfast, floppy unrendered fat on an £80 rib of beef, so-so service. Head chef Max Rocha is from something of a familial fashion dynasty but his CV is much more interesting. The River Cafe and St. John Bread and Wine feature and, at its best, Café Cecilia’s cooking feels inspired by the easy-to-fall-in-love-with elegance and simplicity of those two institutions. Sage and anchovy fritti? Sensational. Chocolate and Guinness cake? Please. Beige and brown is in vogue here, but the frequent missteps don't look good on a restaurant this popular.

As with anything young, hip, and fast making friends in high places, Café Cecilia is liable to forensic cross-examination. Especially when booking dinner requires months of planning or targeted schmoozing at the right parties. It’s undoubtedly a good restaurant and, given its canal-side location, taking yourself or a friend on a daytime date continues to feel like the most rewarding move. Just know that, contrary to what Condé Nast might tell you, it’s not the finished article. Not yet, anyway.


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Food Rundown

Bacon Sandwich

The homeliness of a lovingly made £6 bacon sandwich on this menu shouldn’t be underplayed. It’s not pushing any boundaries but nor do you want it to. Just right.

Café Cecilia review image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Sage and Anchovy Fritti

Every restaurant in the world should have a snack that you could, conceivably, eat all night. With your first drink until your last drink, from light until dark. This fritti is that snack. The batter is as light as a choirboy’s whisper and inside is anchovy carefully sandwiched between a sage leaf. It’s salty, savoury, and your hands won’t be able to resist one more.

Café Cecilia review image

Onglet, Chips, and Peppercorn Sauce

This is Café Cecilia’s proverbial cover star. The pink, thinly sliced strips of onglet are excellent. The green peppercorn sauce, thick and fizzing with that soft texture and warm punch hits like an insult from your own mother. Then there are the chips, oh these chips. Masters of their domain. Crispy and crunchy, neither thick nor thin. You don’t need much else when a potato is this good.

Café Cecilia review image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Deep-Fried Bread and Butter Pudding

Once we broke down this dessert we quickly realised there was never anything to doubt. Deep-fried: big yes. Bread: the love of our life. Butter: our eternal smooth mistress. Pudding: don’t mind if we do, thanks. Oh, and did we mention this almost unshareable creation comes in a pool of cold custard? Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick.

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