Following a major refurbishment, Denmark Street’s landmark rock ‘n roll restaurant, La Giaconda Café Bar Restaurant, brings together a quality caff experience and a fine dining option in the heart of Soho.
There’s music in the air on Denmark Street, Britain’s answer to New York’s Tin Pan Alley and once the nexus of British pop music publishing and songwriting. The street’s connection to the music industry goes back almost 100 years. Even since pop got electric and loud the street has played a significant role. Jimi Hendrix recorded here. So did the Sex Pistols, who lived on the street as well. Elton John wrote Your Song here.
These days though, like so much of Central London, Denmark Street is all about the retail. But the street is still very much a musician’s destination. In fact, I reckon every business on the street is either a music store or a live music venue, except for La Giaconda. I suppose musicians have to eat too, and apparently La Giaconda has been a good place traditionally to do it. The Kinks and the Rolling Stones are all reported as having grabbed a bite here. Word is that David Bowie met the members of his first band at Giaconda.
No hit songs under my belt or in the works, I nonetheless had a lovely low key dinner at La Giaconda a few Friday nights back. I’m happy to recommend the restaurant to anyone looking for a quick bite or a relaxed dinner. The front room caff seems a perfectly perfunctory place to have your breakfast and sip your cuppa in the morning while the back dining room (a transformed courtyard with lots of light) is a simple yet elegant setting for more serious – even rather romantic – dining.
My meal was had in the latter where I was wowed by a crab bisque starter (£6.50); a rib of beef main with oxtail and shallots, salad and chips (£19.50); and an excellent quince and chestnut trifle (£6.50 – and well worth an encore visit!). All in all, I’d say La Giaconda offers a rather nifty if not terribly fussy menu. Maybe a bit stodgy (which I don’t think is necessarily a bad thing). I didn’t notice much in the way of vegetarian friendly options. However, there were plenty of great seafood dishes (on the menu and as specials).
Before my meal I enjoyed a Godfather cocktail (amaretto and Scotch, £7.50) that really took the edge off things and introduced my weekend in potently pleasing style. Wine during dinner was a treat going with the recommendations of co-owner Trace Peterson (she and her chef husband Paul Merrony also own nearby Flat White and Milk Bar). I loved the 2011 Chateau La Croix Chantecaille Saint Emilion.
Does La Giaconda Café Bar Restaurant sound like tunefully tasty place to eat? Visit the restaurant at 9 Denmark Street, WC2 H8LS. Find out more at giacondadining.com.