Having first opened in February 2011 on Soho’s Wardour Street, according to their website L’ETO Caffé is the go-to destination for hand -made cakes and delicacies where resident chefs prepare everything on site.
With six branches across London I ate dinner at LETO’s newest edition which opened last year in Brompton Road and promises to offer the ‘dining concept’ for their already successful café brand offering, again, according to their website, a ‘ top-notch’ dinner menu inspired by modern Italian, French and English cuisines
I went for dinner with a good friend of mine on a Thursday evening.
Firstly the décor struck me as lovely and inviting, clearly a classy establishment: chic furniture, lovely oversized and comfy chairs with plenty of space. I could definitely see the fair Chelsea set frequenting this place for a light lunch or a mid afternoon pick me up.
On entering, your eyes cannot help but be drawn to the ‘Otenlenghi’ style salad bar and the bountiful delicious cakes which clearly grabs the attention of many a hungry passer by as a means of luring potential custom inside.
Staff were attentive and helpful, they were also quick to explain how the concept of the restaurant worked: you can either order from an á la carte menu featuring pastas, meat and fish dishes or you can choose a main from the deli style section such as: Roasted turkey or Lemon & thyme chicken, accompanied with a selection of one or two salads.
This particular night was freezing cold however and although the salads looked very appetizing I was looking forward to something warming. I was also keen to see whether this branch lived up to its claim of a good dining concept.
I started with an Asian salad from the salad bar, although not an ideal choice for a chilly evening, however, being an enthused salad connoisseur I was keen to try. The portion was ample and very tasty, it was actually very hard to make a choice between all the salads as everything looked healthy and fresh, comprising of interesting options.
For the main I ordered from the á la carte: Terriyaki supreme of chicken with mushrooms ( £15.95). This was a little disappointing, the mushrooms were very oily and the chicken sauce was too sweet.
My friend opted for the Crispy bruschetta: made with sweet cherry tomatoes (£6.95), followed by the Wild seabass fillet, quinoa, pine nuts, cherry tomatoes (£21.95). My friend’s starter was also delicious, served on lovely rye toast, which was a nice healthy addition, however she too felt that her main was disappointing. The skin on the seabass was not crispy and the whole dish lacked flavour.
She however did a have glass of ‘Pulenta La Flor’ MALBEC Argentina 2013 £6.80 which my friend complemented highly and made up for her lacklustre main dish.
For afters we shared a lemon meringue pie ( £4.80) which was fantastic so light and not overly sweet with crisp pastry.
As we tucked into our dinner what struck me was the ambience of the whole setting – definitely more of a high end café as opposed to the restaurant concept they are hoping for. There were actually just a few people eating from the á la carte menu, most patrons were enjoying the coffee and cake selection which L’ETO appears to be renowned for. I also noticed an impressive list of teas, coffees and exciting smoothie combinations such as, Coconut, banana & basil, in addition to, Vienna hot chocolate, and Ginger & honey Latte.
The aforementioned ambience, quality and the price of the á la carte menu, begs the question, why has L’ETO deviated from its original, yet effective concept of offering delicious cakes, coffees and light lunches?
The fact that the evening was busy with punters suggests that opening during the evening is justified. London in fact lacks stylish cafés where you can enjoy a light healthy meal or a coffee and cake or even a nice glass of wine. However, I don’t think that L’ETO should attempt to be a high end restaurant offering an á la carte menu, I simply don’t think it needs to. The previous concept was indeed excellent and continues to work well.
The discerning London customer would be happy to pay for classy cake, a glass of fizz or warming coffee in order to be in a lovely setting with attentive staff, but to be frank, there are an abundance of restaurants offering better value and main courses of a more superior, quality.
Price – £56.45 (excluding service) pretty good value for money.
Ambience – Chic, continental and warming.
Service – Friendly, informative and attentive.
Bathrooms – 4/5.
For further details please visit: letocaffe.co.uk