For any self-respecting foodie who lives in London, there’s an unspoken short list of world-renowned establishments one must experience in their lifetime. This list includes a pre-theater meal at The Ivy, attending a dinner dance at the Ritz, taking afternoon tea at the Savoy, having a late-night supper at Claridges and enjoying a boozy weekend brunch at The Wolseley. Not one to conform to convention, the other Mr. Highlife decided my milestone birthday celebrations would involve a take on two of these: cocktails at the Ritz Hotel’s Rivoli Bar followed by a raucous dinner at The Wolseley.
It’s impossible not to be enamored by the Rivoli Bar – an art deco gem, where the white-glove service is impeccable, cocktails are named after the greatest screen legends, and the whole ambience of the setting is a throwback to a more glamorous decade we’ll likely never capture again. It’s a wonderful place to get merry, and if you’re looking for a venue to impress out-of-town visitors or just treat yourself to a decadent night out, no need to look further.
When teamed with a reservation at The Wolseley, the Ritz is particularly handy as a venue, since the two establishments are practically across the road from each other. This other grand dame of art deco grandeur comes courtesy of restaurateurs Corbin and King, who’ve created an atmospheric dining experience in the heart of Piccadilly. This could possibly be the perfect venue to hide away on a cold winter’s evening.
Arriving at The Wolseley means stepping behind the heavy red velvet curtain to reveal a split-level dining room, with seating areas complemented by rich wood and brass awnings beneath a soaring ceiling. Tables are cosy and immaculately turned out, with starched linen tablecloths and polished silver flatware de rigueur. I went for a predictable seared scallop starter, which was presented on a bed of cauliflower puree and dressed with raisins and pine kernels. Not wanting to ignore the brasserie theme, my main was an apt filet of beef, with béarnaise sauce accompanied by pommes frites and gem salad. Our choice of wine for the evening was a smooth tempranillo from Ribera del Duero, an excellent recommendation from the sommelier and the perfect companion to grilled meat.
It was easy to get swept up in the celebratory mood of the evening, and The Wolseley played its part in being a great host as the night drew to a conclusion. It’s hard to recall any singular stand-out moment of the meal (I blame one glass too many of the tempranillo), so I guess I’ll just have to go back for a spot of breakfast or that boozy brunch after all.
Restaurant – 8/10
Experience – 7/10