In the eighties I lived in a flat above a restaurant owned by Miroslav. With his slicked back hair, aviator glasses, tight fitting black tee shirt, acid washed jeans, three inch heel boots and distressed brown leather jacket, he was the epitome of Italian style cool. He even owned a wardrobe of pastel suits. Inspirational. Of course, as you can probably tell by his name Miroslav was a Croatian rather then Italian, and even then his wardrobe was probably a tad dated. Nevertheless the man was a legend to the fashion senseless bunch of NZ males that were my friends. Moving to the noughties and on a glorious sunny Sunday afternoon in London, the Kings Road is brimming with European men still honouring the style mantra that Miroslav did and probably still does adhere to. And all of them seem to be heading for the same place that we are - Manicomio, the deceptively casual looking café / restaurant on Duke of York Square.
Manicomio is run by a former River Café chef, and you can tell in both the quality of the food, and the matching prices. This place most certainly isn’t cheap. The afternoon started nicely when the posher-then-posh young waitress gave the Northerner and I a table in a prime sun spot. It was such a good a table that the neighbouring German couple proceeded to shoot us daggers throughout the afternoon, while an assembly line of increasingly aggravated Kings Road smug couples kept the maitre d’ busy with enquires as to how much longer we would be. It’s sometimes hard to relax while people are gesticulating and throwing longing glances in your direction, but we managed easily enough.
The food was divine, and the rosé overcame my previous long-held doubts about the Italian variations of this wine. In fact the Rosa dei Masi Corvina 06 was so good I drank three pints of the stuff. Something that was cause for regret when I was presented for the bill. Regardless, Manicomio was more then worthy of the hefty spend. The service was warm and very efficient, the ambience excitable yet relaxed as only wealthy European haunts can be. Apparently there is another Manicomio in the city, but I think this is the place you want to try. I’m no fan of the Kings Road / Chelsea thing, but you will be hard pressed to find a better people watching suntrap on this side of London then this place.
And the number of European men effortlessly coordinating the acts of chatting up the waitresses, sipping expensive wines , eying up the Kings Road Euro gals and carrying off that eighties style ‘cool’ all confirmed the fact that the style mantra and spirit of Miroslav lives on.