You might be forgiven for thinking that the Wolseley, whose grand façade nestles next to the Ritz Hotel, was a fin de siecle restaurant, which rivalled the grand cafés of the Continent, i.e. Paris, Vienna, Munich, and Budapest. You would be wrong, but then again this is what you are meant to think. In fact, this imposing building, created by the same architect who built The Dorchester, was originally the showroom for the Wolseley Car Company in the 1920s, when there was a vogue for motoring in the era following the Great War.

Part of the experience of the Wolseley is its architecture. The Wolseley is grandeur personified. The main inspiration for the building was Brunelleschi’s Santa Spirito in Florenc,e and the marble floors are modelled on those of churches of Pisa and San Marco in Venice. The Wolseley boasts Byzantine light fitting, baroque ironwork, Doric Interior and Corinthian exterior columns, and a Mansard roof in the French style. This is not a case of less is more. This is luxury that makes the recently completed temple to excess, 1, Knightbridge, look like a almshouse. The Wolseley was built by a generation who understood the meaning of beauty and craftsmanship.

In 2003 Chris Corbin and Jeremy King opened the now-famous and beloved Wolseley, and the rest is history. The Wolseley Café and Restaurant has become an adored and iconic institution, dedicated to breakfast….and every other form of lunching and dining with savoir faire. Breakfast, however, is the Wolseley’s raison d’être.

— Mrs M

The Wolseley is the ultimate word in breakfast. It will impress the colleague, woo the girl, and astound the long-lost friend. It’s a hit spot that remains hot after many years.

The Wolseley was born in 2003, the brainchild of King and Corbin of Caprice fame. It is a delightful throw-back to the bemoaned long-lost days of power dining. One only needs to enter the airy and old-fashioned room, complete with grand pillars, leather booths and marble floor, to smell the aroma of success, fame and glamour wafting through the air.

Beg to sit by the windows, the perfect spot for subtly eyeballing the famous and infamous, but not so good for disguising the bags under your eyes. Once you’ve indulged in the wonderfully copious menu, the bags will be gone, and the hair will be bouncy once again.

The menu is a gastronomic delight and a challenge to those who find it hard to make a decision. Everything from cheese soufflé to kippers, from foie gras to chocolate sandwiches, is on the rather long and verbose menu. There is a great choice of drinks as well. For example, you’re offered every type of tea one might find in the Chinaman’s pot, wine from every continent, and a coffee list unlike any other. Try an affogato, (espresso poured over vanilla ice cream), a melya (short espresso with Greek honey and single cream,) or the Wolseley Imperial (Mandarin Napoleon and Cognac, long espresso and hot milk, topped with chocolate and whipped cream.) Whew!

For breakfast or brunch, you’d be well advised to wash down a basket of flaky pastries, followed by a very buttery Edds Benedict or the creamy porridge with a luscious hot chocolate sent straight from “chocololic’s heaven.” The orange juice is so fresh you should slap it before it starts to get cheeky.

— Lucinda Baring

The Wolseley
160 Piccadilly
020 7499 6996

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  • The Wolseley