Straight down the middle | Central & Co, 22 Great Marlborough Street, London, W1F 7HU
Central & Co is an all-day brasserie in one of the most prime locations in the West End, slap bang in front of Liberty and nestled within the shopping and theatre district. Tucked away underneath is the ‘&Co’ part – a cute little mellow bar, a perfect sanctuary from the hoards of tourists and shoppers. It seemed like the ideal place for a catch up.
Inside is oh-so-cosy with low lighting and a touch of vintage, my date for the night Hannah described it as a ‘sweet’ space. A narrow and intimate room, the long central wooden table makes you feel like you’re in someone’s front room (someone with a very nice house). Central & Co is the kind of place you could bring anyone (apart from my dad, who wouldn’t take too kindly to the volume of the music).
The volume of the music was the only thing we weren’t too keen on, perhaps that’s a sign of old age creeping up on us, or perhaps we just had too much talking to do. The menu is short and simple, nothing too experimental, just good old British fare which was ideal for nattering. And no mysterious words on the menu that need to be deciphered by a quick Google, sometimes this makes a welcome change. Staff were friendly and helpful, this and the above are all the ingredients required for a casual and relaxed night out.
The cocktails we tried were good, and not too pricey either, I stuck to the lighter options due to experiencing day three of an excruiciating hangover. A fresh and tangy Apples & Pears – Aqua Riva Blanco tequila with apple, pear, fresh lime, agave and raspberry tincture £8.50 a and Grateful Grapefruit – Lillet Blanc aperitif, Aperol, grapefruit, fresh lemon and rhubarb bitters £8 for Hannah. It was a shame we missed the Drink the classics event – a month celebrating four famous novels with cocktail creations. The bar was transformed into a different timeless tales, complete with themed cocktails and scene setting props. Book worm Hannah would have loved this, I on the other hand haven’t had the chance to read a book for about three years.
The starters for us stole the show, addictive glistening sausages in a sticky honey and wholegrain mustard sauce – the Glazed baby sausages £5 made us feel like we’d come to a kids party by mistake. We hadn’t thought things through properly and also ordered the Warm scotch duck egg with house-made Central pickles and mixed leaves £6 – sausage overload. But it was a very good scotch egg, one that I began to wish I didn’t have to share. The heaviness was lessened by the freshness from the salad and cute baby veg pickles, and the fact we didn’t attempt to eat it all.
We ordered some Cucumber crisps with dill and sour cream sauce £4 from the ‘nibbles to share’ section, however they didn’t arrive as a nibble whilst we sipped our cocktails, they came with our starters instead. We were left a little overwhelmed with food and unable to get through the generous serving of crisps. A shame as they were gorgeous, a brilliant bar snack which I hope to return for.
Grilled flank steak with hand cut chips, horseradish cream, slow roasted tomato and watercress £17 was a tad on the chewy side. A great flavour from the meat but not tender enough for me, despite being cooked medium rare as requested. Hannah’s Welsh mussels with English cider, leeks, sage, cream £9.75 went down a storm. She ate every single one, mopping up the sauce with a huge hunk of warm bread.
There was a clear cut choice on the dessert menu for me – a beautiful Lemon and thyme posset with fresh raspberries and raspberry sauce £5.50. I can’t resist a posset and my swollen belly was up for a light zesty dessert after all that sausage. Hannah opted for a soft and gooey Beetroot and chocolate brownie with white chocolate mousse and vanilla ice cream £5.50, she wasn’t too sure about the blob of beetroot on the side judging by the look of confusion on her face.
All in all, Central & Co is not a spectacular restaurant, no big name chef in the kitchen or twitter hype causing a long waiting lists just to get a table. It’s good, simple, reliable food with service that doesn’t rush you and really makes you feel at home. I want to go back for a bowl of cucumber crisps and to check out a few more cocktails in that snug bar of theirs.
22 Great Marlborough Street, London, W1F 7HU
Telephone: 0207 437 4106
Book a table here
Nearest tube: Oxford Circus