Covent Garden is filled with so many restaurants coming and going it’s hard to keep track, but Clos Maggiore has been on a side street of the main square for decades, quietly serving customers pre and post theatre dinners, and now its first floor room can be hired as a private dining room. This is the kind of place that looks tiny from outside but opens up the minute you walk in. The ground floor reception area is the width of the restaurant and quite slim, decked out in red leather banquettes and oversize hanging lampshade which somehow make it feel like a carriage in the Orient Express.
The glass cabinets which lead into the main restaurant house fine Cognacs and Armagnacs and there’s low red lighting adding to the feeling of warmth and cosiness about the place. The private dining room is up the stairs, flanked by walls are adorned with framed wine awards, and a beautiful orchid display. The floors creak in a world-weary yet welcoming way. These stairs, you get the feeling, have seen it all before. The private dining room at Clos Maggiore is partitioned from the landing by a striking wooden wine rack – with rare bottles and jeroboams of wine on display. One of the USP’s of Clos Maggiore is its multi- award winning wine list and the fact it houses HRH, the Duke of Windsor’s late collection – all very timely given the recent success of the film “The King’s Speech” (The Duke was the party-mad one who abdicated to marry Mrs Simpson – not Colin Firth). The room has the feel of someone’s private drawing room, complete with (fake) double doors, plush rust-coloured sash curtains and interesting sketches.
The restaurant’s aura of homely warmth continues as the day I visit there’s also a roaring fire on the go. The stripped floorboards are complemented by comfy brown armchairs, spotless white linen on the tables, silver salvers for wine bottles and light jazz music playing faintly in the background. There’s seating for up to 23 guests in a C (18 boardroom style) or around 30 for a reception. There is no room hire charge, just the cost of food and beverages. Head chef Marcellin Marc, formerly of the two Michelin starred Clos de la Violette, cooks French Provençale inspired dishes with a modern twist. The three course lunch menus start at £35, dinner at £45, although a five course seasonal tasting menu (£55 or £95 with wine) is also available for the really hungry.