Venetia van Kuffeler lunches at Wiltons, the epitome of fine British dining in the heart of St James’
Established in St James’ in 1742 as a stall selling oysters, shrimps and cockles, Wiltons is now owned by the Hambro family. Located on Jermyn Street, Wiltons has become a favourite for members of the government, business people, film stars and British aristocracy. The first Royal Warrant was received in 1884 as Purveyor of Oysters to Queen Victoria, and a second as Purveyors to the Prince of Wales.
Older than America, this iconic London restaurant has a reputation as the epitome of fine British dining in the capital. Wiltons have a wonderfully discreet and professional staff that immediately makes you feel at home. The restaurant is immaculate, with starched linen tablecloths, tables interspersed with classic green secluded banquettes, and many of the original decorative features from the early years, including the iconic lobster logo with top hat and cane.
Charming House Manager Michael Stokes (at Wiltons for over 17 years) tells us that Chef Daniel Kent sources the very best ingredients to be found in the British Isles. Wiltons’ team of dexterous oyster openers has won numerous awards – Sam Tansanguan is a British Oyster Opening Champion.
The menu is extensive, and aside from Oysters, there are sections for Smoked Fish (salmon, eel and halibut to choose from) and Appetisers (twice-baked Cropwell Bishop stilton soufflé, potted shrimps or Périgord truffle and scrambled Banham eggs). After much umm-ing and ahh-ing, we plumped for Crustacea and Molluscs, choosing the native lobster cocktail (for me) and the Devonshire crab and avocado pear (for him). Simple dishes, the freshness of the ingredients spoke for themselves and each was served with a spectacular Marie Rose sauce on the side.
On the day of our visit, the Carving Trolley was serving Loch Duart salmon Coulibiac, a dazzling dome of pastry containing salmon, rice, mushrooms and onions. I chose to have my Dover sole as goujons, served with a side of pea purée. His halibut was served with some spinach and grilled to perfection. Both of these dishes were so simple and timeless, but perfectly cooked and presented. Although tempted by the Welsh rarebit (mustardy cheese on toast triangles), we shared a passion fruit soufflé for pudding, which I must admit, was a little bit life-changing.
Serving one of the best meals we’ve eaten in the past 12 months, Wilton’s has certainly retained that old school charm for which it is famous. It’s no wonder that 250 years on, Wiltons has been included in Condé Nast Traveller’s Gold List 2017: The Best Restaurants in the World.
Wiltons, 55 Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 6LX
T: +44 (0)20 7629 9955 E: email@example.com