69 Long Acre, Covent Garden, London

A little haven of calm and elegance

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Address:69 Long Acre
Covent Garden
Map:Map & nearby
Region:Covent Garden
Nearest Station:Covent Garden
About: Italian Kitchen and Dining Room serving fine italian food alongside a shop selling artisan products.

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"A little haven of calm and elegance"

Review Rating: 8 / 10
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I found this new place quite by accident. I had been out for an evening with a girlfriend. We started with a little light shopping (Zara on Long Acre had some great bargains in the sale). Then we had some drinks at Café des Amies – downstairs in the dark but cool bar, sat up on tall bar stools sipping a celebratory glass of champagne.

Then we has eschewed the upmarket Covent Garden restaurants in favour of the music, bustle, ease and chips at Maxwells. Whilst the food there was as expected, we regretted our decision to have eaten when we found Machiavelli.

We had wandered towards the end of Long Acre in the hope of getting some pastries and coffees at Patisserie Valerie. But being around 10pm it was closed. And so was the nearby Caffe Nero.

I turned to look across the road – to tell my friend about the amazing penthouse apartments that had recently gone on the market on top of the redevelopment there (one of my property clients had taken me on a tour a few months earlier and I had wished I had a few spare millions to buy one of them) and spied the new Machiavelli café/restaurant/kitchen/shop.

It’s positioned as an Italian café and the walls are covered with Italian books (I browsed a few cookery tomes and learned from others that D H Lawrence spent time in Italy), pottery, primary coloured coconut bowls and kitchen implements and ingredients. There were some bright red scales too which caught my eye. It does, indeed, feel like a large, elegant Italian kitchen – and so much warmer than Carluccios.

It wasn’t very busy – which was a shame. There’s a large open central bar – containing coffee making machines and the staff. It is surrounded by lower level glass cabinets displaying all sorts of food temptations.

We indicated that we were only seeking coffee and possibly some desserts, but the staff were extremely welcoming and offered us a variety of seats. We choose some low stools against a side bench – simply decorated with parsley in tied pots. White linen napkins were wrapped with raffia and there were candles in tea light glasses. There were also some large tables which would comfortably seat 10 or 12 as well as numerous smaller tables for two or four people.

The place feels modern but tasteful. The table top was a scrubbed and limed rustic wood. I was also able to order in Italian as the staff were authentic.

Water was served in chunky glasses and the coffee was, as you might expect, perfect – double espresso £2.50. The cakes were divine – my limonata (£2) was a puff of pastry with a lemony zest - I guess the Italian equivalent of a light and refreshing Bakewell Tart. I loved that it was served on a little chopping board. My friend had some incredible looking flourless chocolate cake with crème fraiche - £4.40 – which she loved but found so rich that she couldn’t finish it. That’s a first!

As we relaxed in this lovely environment, our eyes caught sight of the chalkboards where the specials were shown – an antipasto board to share at £16, grilled Tuscan sardines £13.75 and buffalo mozzarella caprese (one of my favourites) £10.50. I shall definitely be returning to try out more of the food – and I suspect that the ambience changes during the day to be perfect for weary shoppers and business folk alike seeking a little haven of calm and elegance to lift their day.

KimT reviewed Machiavelli on Fri 12 Aug 2011

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