Napket – Café, Canteen, Tearoom, Restaurant – review

On Saturday 11 July 2009 Napket launched its largest flagship café at 61 Piccadilly, W1.  With its position Napket logoclose to The Ritz and Old Bond Street, the stylish Napket Piccadilly has cult designer Peter Van Hooreweghe to thank for its striking interior. Such a location deserves a memorable treatment. No, it’s not trying to be the Ritz but Napket does contrive to be something out of the ordinary.

Seating up to 70 guests, the dramatic and eclectic space offers a melange of vintage elegance and industrial buzz. Sporting huge grey-glass Murano chandeliers and black-painted baroque chairs it is truly striking in a rather posh French fashion. That expression of pricey charm extends only up to pelmet height where the techie urban pipes and conduits take hold, with a few nice swathes of exposed brickwork.

It’s true that Napket is a small chain but it has the quirky feel of a one-off independent. This branch is unique in that it offers table service to guests visiting for breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner. Table service is also available for weekend brunch, with morning dishes the likes of Eggs Benedict and Napket Omelettes. The popular lunch spread is solely self-service throughout. It is also the first of the Napket stable to offer an evening dinner menu with wine.

We were there for lunch and its popularity was evident. Its Piccadilly address would obviously help trade Napket streetbut there were plenty of regulars here, and Napket has a raft of competition. It’s the food that draws the punters back. It’s rumoured that there are 20 varieties of speciality Pound Cakes here, so we grabbed a slice of Banana Loaf. Moist and moreish, it had all the credentials of homemade. But a slice of indulgent sweetness does not a lunch make.

My guest ordered a cup of soup from the station just by the front door. The same chef was offering toasted sandwiches and there were several generously-topped pizzas on this cold and wet summer day. The packaging is designed to be not only visually appealing in stark black with gold Napket logo, but practical for both eat-in and take-out. Consequently the soup was ladled into a large paper cup.

The salad bar here is becoming legendary. The choice is wide and the portions are huge, although I found the white marker-written salad menu rather confusing. This place caters for the salad connoisseurs. There is an extensive range of meats, leaves, vegetables and dressings to select from so your salad is made to order before your very eyes, and you have nobody but yourself to blame if your combination is bizarre or boring. The queue here was rather long but we had arrived at the busiest time and the bespoke nature of the salads encourages a slower turn-round than picking plastic from a shelf. The salad bar closes at 3 so ideal for those who have been kept in over lunch by the boss.

My Caesar salad was enough for two hungry diners and was full of the good stuff. No skimping here. Napket tableChicken, bacon, mixed leaves, Parmesan cheese and dressing were all there in abundance to the extent that my eat-in lunch morphed into a take-out supper. OK, so the plastic ‘silverware’ didn’t tick any boxes for me but it’s practical and the tables are cleared at top speed. I didn’t see any lingering debris.

My companion was taken with the chilled smoothies and opted for Immunity, which was a thick concoction of apple, mango and banana. It was pronounced delicious and possibly a worthy lunch substitute for those on the go.

Napket Piccadilly offers something for everyone. Whilst it’s not the cheapest option on the block it’s also true to say that you get what you pay for in both quality and quantity of food, as well as ambiance. I have visited for morning coffee when the café was tranquil and the staff attentive. The lunch hours are vibrant and the tables packed. Not sure what the evening might bring but I am sufficiently impressed to want to return.

61 Piccadilly, London W1J 0DY
Phone: 020 7493 4704

8am – 11pm


Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018