The Wolseley, Piccadilly
This Grand European café in St James’ has a history that, for want of a better phrase, is really rather ‘money’. Originally an expansive marble showcase for expensive motors, The Wolseley Car Company sadly never made it through tough financial times and the building was bought by Barclays in the 1920s. Then finally, once the world had tired of banks and bankers, restaurant titans Corbin and King transformed the Wolseley building into what it should always have been – a haven for decadent dining.
In the great European tradition, you can take breakfast, lunch, tea or dinner here. Interiors are high and fancy – arches, pillars, gold touches, embossed crockery – and the atmosphere is as buzzy as the dining section of a posh Victorian railway station. It’s London meets Vienna and, for dates, a vital tick box if showing someone the town or simply treating them.
Rich food, simply presented on large white plates. For breakfast, an Eggs Benedict is the classic. They present it on only one muffin half, piled high with treats – a nice alternative to the quantity over quality of other breakfast joints. Similarly, a poached egg arrives on a single slice of toast with a quiet ‘whatsup’ of mushrooms on the side – delicious and to the point. For a light Saturday morning date, order 2 glasses of champagne, several pastries, a caramelised grapefruit and a pot of black coffee. Morsels of the good stuff.
Whilst the lunch and dinner menu are great, this tends to be the time of tourists, wealthy families, business men and fashion editors. What you want on a date is to meet for breakfast, as part of a longer day of activities. Pick them up in a taxi and alight directly opposite the restaurant. Tell them in advance to dress up a little – crisp shirt, fur stole.
Coax them into the champagne and talk intelligently on a couple of pre-prepared topics. Use up your full 90 minute sitting, then wander to Dover Street to window shop and end up at the Royal Academy for an early show. Then make your way to the Curzon Mayfair for a naughty morning film in an empty cinema where anything can happen….
Rien (nothing). It’s classic glamour.
2. Pre-game my friend.