London Life Coffee Shops

the monocle café

April 11, 2013

It’s finally here, well sort of. The monocle café has arrived in london. You’ll find a soft opening at the moment until the doors officially open on monday 15th april at 7am. This is their second café, it follows on from the success of the first one opened in tokyo at end of 2011.

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The café’s great location just happens to be near the monocle HQ. Chiltern street is a perfect spot as it’s round the corner from foodie’s haven in marylebone high street, only a few minutes walk from the monocle shop and very close by to selfridges. Perfect!

I arrived at the end of the day, near closing time. Instead of a calm and quiet, not yet fully opened café, I found a heaving place already very much alive and lived in. Why was i surprised? It’s a monocle venture after all! Judging from the photos i’d seen in the press, i thought i might not connect with the space in the same way i connect with the magazine. Well, how wrong can a girl be? It’s every bit as inviting and stimulates your senses. On reflection, it did help that it was full of handsome men. But seriously, the place oozes personality and as soon as I walked in, I definitely felt I entered the monocle world that I’ve grown to love, from its magazine to the radio show, the shops, the products and all other offerings that so seamlessly encompass their brand.

I was scheduled to see stewart, the lovely café manager, for a little interview but as mr tyler brûlé himself was in the house, i didn’t get to spend more than 5 minutes with him as all staff were running around tyler while simultaneously serving everyone. But hey, they haven’t officially opened yet and as we’ve come to expect from the monocle brand, detail is key and tyler is the master at it. I did, however, get a chance to spend a couple of moments catching up with the boss himself. I must say, he was looking very dapper! (don’t worry, i told him so).

Back to the two-floor café, as I was saying, it already looked very much lived in and that’s mostly due to the brilliant design, furniture and materials used throughout. I particularly liked the lighting, which lends the atmospheric ambience. The black ebolicht pendants lights from manufactum are robust and perfect for the upstairs space. Although very japanese/scandinavian in its design, normally associated with minimalism, the café feels somehow sumptious and abundant.

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Monocle’s in-house design team, led by yoshitsugu takagi, worked with edo design and construction, a trusted band of 12 japanese architects and joiners, based in london. The tasmanian oak tables, stools and barstools are from onethird, a young australian design firm of tasmanian craftsmen.

At the back of the ground floor you have a salon/living room where they’ll be broadcasting live on monocle 24. There you can relax on the feather upholstered japanese oak sofa and ottomans from truck in osaka.

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Throughout the café there are back-issues of the monocle magazine and there’s wi-fi for subscribers.

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Downstairs, available for hire (exclusively to subscribers) you can hold meetings and presentations. Kitted out in vintage ercol chairs and tables from local store, century. Don’t you love the le klint pendants? One wall is adorned with framed prints, all featured in monocle magazines.

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You won’t be surprised to know that the coffee and food has been meticously sourced and selected. Coffee comes from allpress espresso, the new zealand suppliers. As of 15th april, there’ll be daily deliveries of fresh macarons, green tea roll cake and strawberry gateau, curteousy of japanese chef masayuki hara. Food will see the likes of a range of dishes, including their swiss-inspired bircher muesli, a rich and cheesy monocle toasty and their own midori salad, made with seasonal ingredients. I believe, these are some of tyler’s favourite snacks. For now, until they open, you can find cake and these..

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The staff, of course, wear special aprons, each one hand-made and sewn by master craftsmen with yarn canvas.

Let’s please not forget another important part. The bathroom, as monocle likes to call it. Oak-panelled and installed with a toto washlet and hand basin, it wraps up the entire monocle philosophy.

For me, it was like walking into a familiar world. As a fan and long-time monocle reader i pretty much loved everything about it and cannot wait to return when it officially opens. It feels like a small version of a membership club (without the membership), where you can have a coffee and read the papers or actually stop for some lunch. On the other hand you might want to lounge, do some work and listen to live broadcasting of monocle 24 or maybe you just want to meet up with friends and business colleagues. Its warm, friendly and inviting and i believe it’s everything tyler wants it to be. Go and see for yourselves.

The Monocle Café opens 15th April at 7am
18 Chiltern Street
London W1U 7QA
Please check for opening times.

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34 Comments

  • Reply Chi @ 106 April 11, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    I know there’s a huge difference between seeing photos and experiencing a space firsthand but, like you, I didn’t expect to have the same instant connection with Monocle Café that I had when I first came across Monocle magazine.

    It has the attention to detail and impeccable design one would expect and yet it feels like hanging out at a good friend’s place – so unexpected!

    Love the intelligent takeaways menu. Brilliant idea.
    Wonderful review, Tina. 😀 xo

    • Reply tina April 15, 2013 at 12:40 pm

      I know. As much as I like Monocle I didn’t expect to connect with the café in this way. I don’t connect that much with Nordic Bakery..
      it was really like the magazine has come to live, including the beautiful people:-)

      Yes, loved the takeaway menu too.
      Thanks love x

  • Reply Holly {Avenue} April 11, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    What a gorgeous cafe! Love all the warm wood and the pendants over the counter. Will have to drop in next time I’m in London!

    • Reply tina April 15, 2013 at 12:40 pm

      Thanks Holly. Yes, try and go when you’re next in London!

  • Reply Parisbreakfast April 12, 2013 at 7:47 am

    Fabulous!
    I wonder how it will be packed with people
    Love everything about it.
    Thanks for the inside scoop Tina

    • Reply tina April 15, 2013 at 12:41 pm

      Good point, Carol!

      Haha. You have taste, but then I know that. Thanks and pleasure:)

  • Reply Helen April 12, 2013 at 10:24 am

    Love the pleated pendant lights above the seating area. Do you know where they are from?

    Thanks for the insights Tina. Will have to pop in next time I’m in town.

    • Reply tina April 12, 2013 at 10:48 am

      Hey Helen. Thanks. Yes, have now linked to it on the post. They are ‘Le Klint’.

  • Reply Judith April 12, 2013 at 11:42 am

    I loooooove it when a concept is executed so perfectly and cosy with great eye for detail! It looks so fabulous and warm! Thanks for taking us with you on this pre-opening visit, Tina!

    • Reply tina April 15, 2013 at 12:43 pm

      Pleasure love… monsieur Tyler has an incredible eye for detail and is meticulous about EVERYTHING.
      It is a work of Art in many ways…

  • Reply Gerard @WalnutGrey April 12, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Well firstly, I have to say I’M SO JEALOUS that you’ve been to the new Monocle Cafe! And secondly, I’m so glad you managed to get in and get us some wonderful pics.

    It is often difficult to imagine how a space will really feel until you’re in it. I believe I would be right at home in Monocle’s cafe, especially with all of that beautiful textured wood, the Monocle prints and exquisitely chosen design pieces. I know their crockery is from Japanese brand Hasami and their mugs & cups are beautiful. I can’t wait to enjoy an Allpress Espresso Americano from one of those.

    The level of detail is exceptionally Monocle… right down to the handmade aprons from Kyoto (I want one) and Kay Bojesen cutlery. Just wow!

    The idea of entering a membership club without the membership is a wonderful analogy. I hope when I visit that it will be like stepping into Monocle’s world – a living version of their magazine and radio station.

    Well done for chatting to Tyler in what sounded like a bit of chaos. I know I would have gushed!

    My one criticism is that the scatter cushions aren’t right for the Truck oak sofa and the sofa’s cushions need to be plumped up. And an observation… I love every item of design chosen for the Monocle Cafe. But it would have been good to see some British craftsmanship in their too. For example I know they’ve worked with UK brand, Another Country.

    Great post & big thank you! xx

    • Reply tina April 15, 2013 at 1:07 pm

      Haha. I know…. it was your choice to move back to Belfast:-)

      I have NO DOUBT you’ll feel like home from home. In fact, I believe that the Café is that ‘happy medium’ between my taste and yours.. all the materials you like, but with a warmth I sometimes lack in your ‘preferred spaces’. Would you agree?

      Yes, that attention to detail is exceptional and the only other person who I know is that meticulous about everything she lays her hands on is the lovely and ever so talented Ms Ilse Crawford!

      Gushed you would have!!! He did look hot! I think I might have embarrassed him by saying so… oh well, he is a big boy!!

      The scattered cushions surprised me too but no doubt there’s a story there.. and maybe they’ll be exchanged. Don’t forget things change when places go live and are inhabited!

      Well, the subject matter of British craftsmanship is na interesting one. We know, Tyler loves everything Japanese/Scandinavian and we know that in their survey of best places to live London doesn’t even appear. Yet, Monocle’s HQ is in London, second Café is in London. Hmmm, wish now would have had chance to ask him…. good point Gerard!

      You know where we’ll be meeting next time you’re in town xx

  • Reply Catherine Bedson April 12, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Hi Tina, I’ve never come across Monocle magazine or brand before. Lovely to be introduced to it. The design looks very much like some of the cafes I went to in Japan last year they are masters of simple, minimalist design..beautiful.

    • Reply tina April 15, 2013 at 1:08 pm

      Ha. Jealous you’ve been to Japan.. would love it! Check out Monocle magazine if you get a chance. Might not be your thing, but then just might!! xx

  • Reply Igor April 12, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Fabulous! Lately, your blog post make me want to come for a quick visit to London again! Oyyy! Happy weekend, Tina!

    • Reply tina April 15, 2013 at 1:09 pm

      Haha. You’re always welcome, you know that!!! Vespa waiting for you….:-)

  • Reply annie April 12, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    I’ve been watching this with some interest over the last couple of months as it’s right opposite the shop where I bought my wedding dress. I had never been to Chiltern street before and it’s a really pretty street and half wedding dress and the rest is old fashioned gentlemen’s outfitters. But the arrival of sunspel and now monocle cafe perhaps signal that the street is changing?
    I love Marylebone!
    the interior is nice, but a bit ‘me too’ I think, not very original, and I agree with Gerard about the cushions and lack of British brands. Don’t know much about monocle I’m afraid so can’t comment more on them but you lot all seem to love them so they must be alright 🙂

    • Reply tina April 15, 2013 at 1:15 pm

      I’ve always loved Chiltern Street. The first time I visited was in the late 80’s when I used to go to Bharti Vyas (beauty clinic). She’s still there and I would still recommend her!

      The street has always been a little safe heaven with small retailers doing their thing. That’s what I love about it. The food bit is changing. Now you have Nordic Bakery and Monocle, it will no doubt change the clientele…

      Don’t think Monocle is your thing… but do take a look. Surprised R is not reading it!

  • Reply leah of sang the bird April 13, 2013 at 12:31 am

    This is so fabulous. And like Catherine, I’ve never come across Monocle magazine or brand before either. I love their aesthetics.
    This morning I shared your post on ‘attendant’ with my Mr…. Your amazing discoveries brighten my small town experiences xx

    • Reply tina April 15, 2013 at 1:17 pm

      Always nice to discover new stuff, right??

      Haha, what did Mr… say??
      Darling, my discoveries might brighten up your small town experiences BUT your life in pictures etc awards me that very much needed ‘ slow living’ with beauty and nature and a cute kid!! So there, we both get what we need:-)) xx

  • Reply Michaela April 14, 2013 at 8:29 am

    Fab post Tina – I’d have to try it next time I’m town. Although I’ll agree with Gerard on the British Design angle – as he’s mentioned in a post before, British design is fab, and why aren’t we using it and shouting about it more?!. I’ve met the guys from Another Country and their attention to detail is something else. I can see their elegant designs would fit great into this space.

    But you can’t fault the overall aesthetics though can you? Impeccable. xx

    • Reply tina April 15, 2013 at 1:20 pm

      Well, difficult to know why but Tyler loves Japanese/Scandinavia and I believe he does enough for the British Economy. maybe he’s trying to get British Designers and Craftsmen to take a leaf out of his book and come back up to scratch. We all know they can!!!

      Check it out and let me know what you think.
      Impeccable it truly is xx

      • Reply Anu March 2, 2014 at 1:39 pm

        Tyler has Nordic aesthetics in his genes, His family roots are in Estonia, that is one of the Nordic countries, near Finland. Finnish, Estonian and Japanese design are somehow similar and spiritually connected in my opinion, valuing practical, honest, simple and beautifully crafted things.

  • Reply Nicola April 15, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    It’s amazing the way this café translates the thought processes and tastes of the magazine, website and Tyler Brûlé into an environment. A real 2D into 3D moment. Love it all. Love the black and white canopy too. Can you buy the pictures in there? Looking forward to visiting as soon as possible xx

    • Reply tina April 15, 2013 at 1:22 pm

      AH, beautifully put Nicola. You are so right…”A real 2D into 3D moment”. Succinctly put!

      Yes, canopy really lovely. I don’t think you can buy the pictures but on the Monocle website you’ll see the prints they do have for sale. I love those….http://monocle.com/shop/prints/

      Thanks N xx

  • Reply Gudy Herder April 15, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    That post comes just in time! I am a huge fan of Monocle, every single issue is beating the former one. I have always wanted to visit one of their shops and plan to visit London shortly. Want to meet for a coffee there? 🙂

    • Reply tina April 15, 2013 at 8:08 pm

      Hello Gudy, thank you for stoping by. I’ve seen you on other blogs:-)

      Ha. Sure, I’ll be your personal Monocle guide… let me know when you get here!

  • Reply We Heart Home April 16, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    Tina – those Klint pendants are fabulous!!
    thanks for sharing! Trisha x

    • Reply tina April 19, 2013 at 10:54 am

      Thanks Trisha, they are rather spectacular.. x

  • Reply Holly April 18, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    Oh Tina! I can tell by how you wrote this that you had a great time!

    It looks pretty perfect. The interior is just my thing. I would love to visit it one day. Yes…another one on the list 😉

    One little detail is throwing me off though. It’s the wifi for subscribers thing. I absolutely detest when places make wifi restricted. Especially since many of us can just tether from our phones. Restricting wifi feels cheap to me. So not Monocle.

    Fabulous pictures Tina!

    Xx.

    • Reply tina April 19, 2013 at 10:57 am

      Haha! Can You??

      It can all be done. All you need is time and we will zoom from one end of London to the other on my Vespa and visit EVERYTHING that’s on your list….:-)

      The wi-fi thing is tricky. Normally I would agree with you. In this case though, knowing Monocle, they are trying to offer subscribers incentives and exclusivities… hence that move! Don’t worry honey, I’ll get you wi-fi xx

      Thanks love!

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