Monocle Cafe, Marylebone
Set within the charming streets of Marylebone, the luxurious and civilised Chiltern Street is not only home to the infamous Chiltern Firehouse, but the cosy and welcoming Monocle Cafe. If you manage to grab a table outside under the now Instagram famous black and white striped awning, you will be looking directly across at the deep red bricked facade of the old Victorian Firehouse.
This is a busy place, much loved and much used. A real part of the community, with Monocle’s offices just round the corner you can often bump into some of the editors and presenters from their own Radio channel. But it is perhaps less appreciated than the coffee houses of Soho, Mayfair and Fitzrovia by Londoners as a whole, meaning you can still steal a quiet moment to laze here on one of the sofas and actually enjoy your coffee. You are so close to everything here, Selfridges is a moment away, but it feels a world apart, quiet and a little less metropolitan. These are good things to find in the heart of London, believe me.
There is an instant connection with the Monocle Cafe, you can not help it, similar to reading the Monocle Magazine; the attention to detail and the personable feel for design put you at ease, all helping to encapsulate a charming coffee and dining experience. They have one of the best brunches in town here, the Scandinavian Breakfast is a truly European and healthy breakfast/brunch.
The menu is concise and well thought out, the food choices reflecting the design and aesthetic around you. The menu is communicated in a rather charming way too, in pictures on the wall behind the barista, so you can steal glimpses of the delicious options as they work their way about. It all looks very good up there, and thankfully when it arrives it looks just as good. The coffee here is still given star billing, coming from Allpress, based over in Redchurch Street, East London, this is artisan coffee made using beans directly from exporters roasted daily. Vying for attention also are the cakes by Masayuki Hara at Lanka in South Hampstead. The Chocolate Roll cake, filled with strawberries, blueberries, kiwi fruit, and vanilla is particularly good.
Although the design is very much rooted in the Japanese/Scandinavian style, it is not perhaps the paired back minimalist design you would normally associate it with. Instead the in house Monocle design team, who are headquartered just round the corner at Midori House, and Edo Design, Japanese architects and joiners based in London, have distilled all the warmth and craftsmanship from both of these schools of design, creating a calm and homely atmosphere.
The black pendant lights, from Manufacture, are a perfect linear echo of the black and white awning outside, elongating the room and drawing your eye ever onwards. The details are extraordinary, right down to the handmade aprons from Kyoto, the Kay Bojsen cutlery and the Japanese Hasami crockery.
Though narrow the cafe goes a long way back with bar style seating around the barista area, then further back, a comfortable lounge filled with chairs and sofa for whiling away the hours reading back issues of the Monocle Magazine or listening to Monocle's very own radio station Monocle24; from global affairs and interviews to my favourite, the Atlantic Shift, music from Tokyo to Buenos Aires, a truly eclectic playlist; and additional seating down stairs with a small space to hire for business meetings. This place has its own time, its own pace, indeed in a way its own universe.
Opening times: Mon-Tue-Wed: 07.00-19.00, Thur-Fri: 07.00-20.00, Sat: 08:00-20:00, Sun: 08.00-19:00 ( Kitchen is open all day until 6pm).