LDNReview

Café Deco review image

Café Deco
8.4

British in Bloomsbury

$$$$

Get Directions  |   020 8091 2108  |  Website

    Perfect for
  • Casual Weeknight Dinner
  • Date Night
  • Drinking Good Wine
  • Lunch
  • Outdoor Seating
  • Small Plates

There are restaurants you want to be in for special occasions, others you save for your beloved, and some that you simply want to age decrepitly and drunkenly in. Café Deco is all of the above. Humble but perfectly formed, just like the food it serves, there is little that doesn’t feel right about this café, restaurant and wine bar hybrid that’s a hurried walk away from Goodge Street

Much of what makes Café Deco so lovely reveals itself the more time you spend here. It feels more like a gastronomically-gifted dinner party than anything fancy. The intimate room is full of murmuring voices and yellow candlelight, elbows are on tables, spoons and bread are getting stuck into French onion soup, chicken pie, apple fritters and more. Wines without a sulphite in sight are being sampled, noses are wrinkled and others are happily nodded at. It feels friendly and familiar. It feels like a restaurant you’re a regular at from the first time you visit.

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The menu changes weekly, dotting between the two leading food groups: the brown and the beige. Soups are essential - be it a pigeon broth or a summer gazpacho - and lots of the rest falls into the category of unfussy things you want to eat. Pork crackling with apple sauce, eggs and mayo with a single anchovy perched on top, a pastry pie, a potato pie, gnocchi with the finest olive oil, and ham - a glorious plate of ham! It isn’t precious or played around with food. It’s stuff that’s homely. Stuff that’s made to be eaten hungrily. Think a bowl of venison stew and mashed potato.

In Farrow & Ball terms, Café Deco’s food is full of ‘sunny neutrals’, but we think there’s a perma-spring feel to everything here. One that desperately wants to warm cold red cheeks with pot-roast chicken or refresh sweaty brows with a glass of something crisp and a scoop of melon sorbet. What Anna Tobias (of Rochelle Canteen and River Cafe kitchens) and the team behind 40 Maltby Street have done is make a restaurant that occasionally serves the most luxurious of baby food but, at nighttime, feels strictly adult-only. While in the day it’s hard to imagine a nicer environment for lone readers or hungry parents than the hushed surroundings around UCL, alongside a plate of meatballs and orzo, or a bowl of jam roly poly and ice cream. It’s unconventionally conventional. And that feels just right.

Food Rundown

Eggs

Eggs are a favourite here. Devilled eggs, eggs mayonnaise: both classic snacks from a bygone era, brought back to life. Sure, it’s a little retro. But you can’t argue with the taste. It’s a 70s dinner party done right.

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Snacks

Charcuterie is a go-to and cheese straws have been known to feature. Any good wine bar should be expert at picky bits and that’s exactly what Café Deco is. A little rillette or paté on toast is also a regular. Or three small slices of toast with lard, chickpea, chicory and olive oil. All simply delicious snacks that, frankly, you’d love to think that you could throw together at home. But let’s be real.

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Soup

Soup can feel greatly undervalued these days. You hear about plenty of new small plates restaurants but very rarely do you hear someone go on about the soup. We think that should change. From fish soup with rouille, to cauliflower with brown butter, to a sweet and savoury bowl of crab soup with brandy cream, this a restaurant that puts a spotlight on flavour-packed soups.

Big Plates

From chicken and bacon pie, to borlotti bean stew, to gnocchi with bitter cavolo nero and the silkiest of new season olive oil. There can be any number of dishes that scream both fresh and seasonal while also having the snugness of a pie or a schnitzel below them. Vegetables, also, are treated like the kings and queens at this restaurant. Ignore your inner toddler and beeline for them.

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Pudding

Very few restaurants in London understand puddings like Café Deco. They’re the type of puddings you’d dream about at school, full of cream and custard, steamed or deep-fried, with fruit acting as a necessary natural sugar rather than anything else. Homemade ice creams and sorbet throughout summer are also a must.

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