The London Review of Breakfasts

"Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper." (Francis Bacon)

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Wolseley, Mayfair

The Wolseley
160 Piccadilly

by Saul T. Rasher

There may be other places more romantic, there may be superior venues for calming a crapular corpus, and others lighter on the pocket-book. But for a breakfast to ease the soul and engender sentiments of gentility and a deep sense of Englishness, no venue trumps The Wolseley.

The mise en scene is – if one may associate such sentiments with mornings – seductive. Stout masculine marble is softened by feminine Art Deco arabesques on the stairways and bannisters, so that diners are eased into an elegant cast of mind. The room tinkles as much with genteel Mayfair tittering as silver-on-china.

What of the victuals? Imperial teas include a pungent gunpowdery Lapsong. Coffee comes in smooth-plunging cafetieres or thimbles of espresso with a perfect cap of crema. Mint tea is made with mint, orange juice with oranges. All in all, all is as it ought to be.

As for food, croissants, crumpets, black puddings, omelettes and - O, horror! - waffles jostle for attention. Superlative porridge is served correctly in a wide, cooling bowl with sugar, brown as it ought to be (the unrefined version being so much more refined).

Best are the eggs: they have a way with ova here. Scrambled, they are angelic in lightness, with an egginess indubitably organic. The ne plus ultra, though, is the eggs benedict. Never, surely, have yolks oozed so pleasingly, the goo spreading like sunshine over the ham and soft bread. Rarely has the buttery tang of hollandaise so tingled the tongue. Your scribe recommends two eggs – with this dish, an oeuf is never enough.

In the wrong hands breakfast can be – as you will have doubtless learned - a flippant affair, the day’s amuse bouche. Not here. Here they know that breakfast is the most important repast, not just nutritionally, but more importantly, aesthetically. Do go.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is a majestic experience, although recent reports (from friends) suggest a haughtiness has infected front-of-house when dealing with walk-ins. I hope this isn't the case.

2:38 PM, February 28, 2007  
Anonymous Scott Cheigg said...

I had the reasonably good fortune to breakfast at this establishment in recent times. The food was very good, but the service was what I can only describe as staccato. Menus were thrust, plates and cutlery were whisked away... it was all very... angular. For the money I paid I am expecting staff to glide and to waltz and to move most gracefully.

But no.

They were staccato.

9:10 PM, February 28, 2007  
Anonymous Des Ayuno said...

Popped into this old favourite on Wednesday with Mr Cheigg. My Eggs Benedict were magnificent as always, but his gruyère omelette was frankly unappetising. The service continues its decline into mediocrity. O for the days when Chris and/or Jeremy popped by one's table for a natter and front-of-house proffered an umbrella to shield one from the rain between taxi and front door.

1:49 PM, January 18, 2008  
Anonymous Mama Lade said...

Well I haven't been for a bit but I went for my sister's birthday breakfast last year and we were unceremoniously shoved in a corner, ignored for as long as possible and finally given a breakfast which, while superficially grand and housed in natty silver crockery, was actually pretty bog standard and in one case worse than that - I had a poached egg which was way too far on the mucus side of cooked and barely edible. Simply not on at those prices. It's a beautiful room but the food and the service have become unacceptably snotty.

Go to Smiths of Smithfield instead. Great food, great bloody marys, welcoming atmosphere... though the staff are a bit strange the palce is so pleasant you don't mind waiting for them to overcome whatever demons they're wrestling with and summon the courage to take your order.

4:15 PM, January 18, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you are quite right about the quality of the breakfast but you describe the place as being very english. what tosh! it's turn of the century (previous century) vienna, in my book. the menu ranges far and wide - pan european traditional, maybe? don't call it english just cos you ordered an english selection.

11:02 AM, March 20, 2008  
Anonymous Freda Mare said...

I agree. Best breakfast in London. And dinner is pretty good too.

9:44 AM, May 13, 2008  
Anonymous Ross Bevan said...

Having decided to treat myself to a great breakfast on a visit to London, I browsed the internet looking for reviews and stumbled across this site and the review of The Wolsley. The main review made it sound absolutely perfect for an extremely indulgent start to the day and so I booked it straight away. I then read the comments about the aloof and haughty front of house staff and suddenly became quite disheartened. However, I thought I may as well give it a go and I am so very glad I did. I was served by a wonderfully attentive, polite and charming Australian girl by the name of Claire and was treated very well throughout the whole dining experience. In fact I would say that I simply couldn’t fault the service I received. I would even go further to say that, whilst enjoying my decadent start to the day, I was watching many of the staff who all seemed very attentive, efficient and personable. If you appreciate a great breakfast, fantastic service and elegant surroundings, I would whole-heartedly recommend trying this place.

4:04 PM, November 13, 2008  
Anonymous Craig Millar said...

Eggs Benedict were good but the croissants were stale and flaked all over our suits. We were covered! Also, the eggs benedict with smoked salmon is decent but is only to be called "Eggs arlington," we were haughtily informed!

Much better breakfast is to be had at Brown's Hotel immediately opposite just up Dover St.

2:55 PM, March 12, 2010  
Anonymous London Personal Trainer said...

I think the Chinoiserie decorations, people-watching potential and rather fine eggs benedict, make up for the patchy service.

12:11 PM, March 08, 2012  

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