Cecconi’s Barcelona, pronounced, Chekoni’s is the “public facing” high-end Italian chain (1 of 8 worldwide) from the Soho House group. Public-facing meaning unlike the top two floors of Soho House: the street level Cecconi’s welcomes non-members. I’m here for the much-lauded brunch buffet. It’s 45€ so I have come equipped with an appetite so fervent I feel woozy from my low blood sugar.
We are seated in the corner of the large dining room. The space is broken up by potted plants and various seating formats. I covet at least half the prints I see hanging on the wall.
The buffet is extravagant. Platters upon platters of food. Old cookbooks stacked beneath to offer a staggered view of all the options. Antipasti Misti, which is how I start, along with some salads and Vitello Tonnato – the veal an alluring shade of pink. There is a large knot of mozzarella, the size of a handbag, strewn with brightly coloured pistachios.
Next, I move on to the main meal. The choice, once again, is considerable: lasagna, risotto served in a hollowed-out Parmesan cheese, meatballs. They have 3 kinds of meat set out under heat lamps: roast beef, lamb chops, and porchetta. Porchetta for me- I would have taken all the crackling but settled for the sliver that came with my slice. It is sliced to order by one of the chefs behind the counter all of whom are speaking Italian to each other.
I take my seat and take my time looking around, reassured that the buffet will stay generously filled throughout the afternoon. At the bar in front of me, there is a couple newly in love, the woman is slim, with a frilly collared red shirt and a severe short haircut. Next to me, two young French women, the accessories of whom I want. Across from me a guy in a white Emirates / Ronaldo jersey (always wondered who buys those things). Every time I return to the buffet (it is often) I pass a table of beautiful Italian women who are conversing with the servers in Italian. The people-watching is as good as the buffet it turns out.
It’s coming to 5:30 and most of the customers have left. The buffet remains full.
“What happens with all this food?” I ask a young server who has gone to the back to find out if there is more of the tapioca and mango pudding I am after.
“It’s staff lunch,” she tells me.
And sure enough, staff start lining up and piling mountains of food on their plates while some fill takeaway containers.
That’s almost the best part I think. Working in hospitality, always being on to grant the wishes and expectations of others and represent your brand is thankless work, certainly not compensated adequately, so to see Soho House treating their staff to the good stuff is great.
I’ve been a few times for their regular menu for lunch and in the evening but their brunch is my favourite reason to go.
Passeig de Colom, 20
El Born 08002