I have been to The Wolseley numerous times. It’s my favourite place for breakfast, but I have also enjoyed many lunches, dinner and even afternoon tea here. But it took me the better part of eleven years to discover their amazing Croque Monsieur!
One early Saturday evening in December, tired from Christmas shopping and in need of a bite to eat since I had skipped lunch, I passed The Wolseley and thought that would be an excellent place for an early solo supper. They are always fully booked but keep several tables available for walk-ins and I was lucky enough to nap one in the café area. It was actually the first time I’d been in that part of the restaurant and it was cosy and cute and had plenty of people eating by themselves, just like I did.
Eyeing up the menu the Croque Monsieur caught my eye (always in the mood for melted cheese!) and it was just as perfect as I had hoped. The bread was crusty and thick, filled with melted cheese and a nice slice of ham and topped with béchamel and some more cheese. It was very cheesy but in the best possible way and different textured made it such a treat to eat.
Sitting there full and happy, resting my tired legs and watching the world in the restaurant go by, I was so content. A perfect London moment. And a perfect meal.
The Wolseley, 160 Piccadilly, St. James’s, London W1J 9EB
Despite having lived in London for 8 years now (yep, time flies) I haven’t had the pleasure to eat breakfast at The Wolseley until this year. Bad planning on my part, obviously. But at least I’ve been there for several lunches, dinners and afternoon tea. But there is something special about breakfast in this fabulous art deco space with perfect eggs and perfect service. If you fancy reading up on the subject (and get the recipes), I highly recommend A.A. Gill’s book Breakfast at The Wolseley, it’s very good.
For me, this is the ultimate breakfast experience because it’s so different from having breakfast in your own kitchen. There are lots of waiters and they’re there to pour water, take your order, serve the food and fetch you whatever you want. Their attentive and efficient and together with the perfectly executed food it makes it such a special experience.
I had breakfast here with two of my best friends from Sweden when they were visiting. We needed some morning luxury and thoroughly enjoyed our breakfast here with Eggs Florentine (spinach, poached egg and hollandaise sauce on a toasted English muffin) and an excellent bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon.
We also enjoyed cappuccinos and freshly squeezed orange juice, and to finish this lovely basket of pastries. My favourite was the plain croissant, wonderfully buttery and flaky. If you also need this breakfast experience in your live (you do), I urge you to book a table well in advance as it’s a very popular weekend treat.
The Wolseley, 160 Piccadilly, London W1J 9EB
It was actually in December that I paid Brasserie Zédel, one of the new restaurants from the team behind The Wolseley, a visit. By then it had been open for a few months and so popular you wouldn’t be able to get a table without a reservation. Much like their other two restaurants, The Delaunay (The Aldwych) and Colbert (Sloane Square) that opened around the same time.
A big expansion it seems, but it also seems to work. Especially Brasserie Zédel, at the heart of buzzing Piccadilly and the Chelsea-based Colbert the prices are kept low but the food is just as excellent as the brilliant service.
The French onion soup we both enjoyed as a starter was very nice and came in a generous bowl. As a maincouse my dining companion had fillet of bream with and olive and onion compote and lentils and I thoroughly enjoyed my rare onglet with red wine jus and chips.
I think The Wolseley will always have a special place in my heart having eaten there at several occadions, but Brasserie Zédel is close. The food is similar French dishes but at lower prices. The service is just as perfect as the original and the decor is of similar art deco style, but the ambiance is slightly different since it is in a basement.
All in all I see this as a more lighthearted and younger version of the original with the buzzing bar just next door. And it is about time Piccadilly Circus saw some glamour.
20 Sherwood Street
London W1F 7ED