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