RESTAURANT REVIEW: Sixteen years on, Venetia van Kuffeler returns to The Wolseley
I’m fortunate to have been to The Wolseley a number of times since its opening in 2003. Over the years, there have been business breakfasts, celebration brunches, family lunches and birthday dinners there. It was during the early 2000s that restaurateurs Chris Corbin and Jeremy King came to acquire the building. A former car showroom and site of Barclays bank, the spot retained many of its grand original features as reinterpreted by designer David Collins. With high domed ceilings and marble floors, interiors were as impressive and as fitting as the address at 160 Piccadilly would suggest. On opening, the critics and diners alike were enthralled with London’s first grand café, and The Wolseley became the hottest restaurant in town. Reservations were like gold-dust. But sixteen years on, does it still live up to the hype?
Aside from the impressive interiors, The Wolseley’s comforting menu has always been a huge part of the draw. There are options for all moods and ages from the oysters and crevettes of the crustacea menu, to eggs benedict and omelettes, caviar, expertly chopped steak tartare,swiss cheese soufflé, schnitzels, salad and fillet steak.
Wait staff are immaculately turned out, providing charming, but efficient old school professional service. We kicked off our lunch with two expertly crafted bloody marys, alongside a half a dozen Lindisfarne and La Spéciale de Claires oysters. A tremendous start. My companion had the immaculately presented dressed Dorset crab and I the chopped chicken and tarragon salad. Not such an exciting thing to order, but The Wolseley really know how to serve a good chopped salad.My fillets of lemon sole came swimming in golden butter; the edges were perfectly caramelised and came with a slight crunch. Delicious alongside a cold glass of Chablis, and somesides of French fries and green beans. Fries are served in silver tankard. This is no ordinary café. He delighted in his calf’s liver and bacon that came with caramelised onions and a rich, thick sauce Robert.
My companion finished with a Welsh Rarebit, which he demolished in a few shortly minutes. Given that afternoon tea is the only meal I have yet to enjoy at The Wolseley, I have grand plans to return to try the patisserie menu. Chocolate éclair or a vanilla millefeuille, anyone? Or perhaps a banana split ice cream coupe? If the food we ate was anything to go by, tea is going to be good.
You can pop into The Wolesley at any time of day, and although there are a few tables for walk-ins, reservations are still advised. Breakfast is served from 7am, and the same menu is served for lunch and supper. The all-day menu serves from 11.30 until 11pm and includes a few more comforting classics like the Croques Madame (and Monsieur!) and the Wolseley Hamburger.
As always, a meal at this Piccadilly institution felt like an absolute treat I’m delighted to confirm that The Wolseley is still the grand café restaurant that it has always been.
The Wolseley, 160 Piccadilly, London W1J 9EB