Harden's survey result
For 25 years we've been curating reviews of the UK's most notable restaurant. This year diners have submitted over 60,000 reviews to create the most authoritative restaurant guide in the UK.
“Always bustling” and “a real occasion” – Corbin & King’s “large, continental and sophisticated” Grand Café near The Ritz is “a marvellous, metropolitan meeting point” not least for the capital’s movers ’n’ shakers (it’s “great for subtle star-spotting!”) for whom the “courteous and very professional service” helps make it the town’s No. 1 choice for business. The “brasserie comfort food is unambitious but well done”, and it’s as “a go-to venue for breakfast” (it’s “THE place in London”) that it particularly shines. Another Top Tip – “afternoon tea to die for”.
From “the perfect power breakfast” (“like a Who’s Who of the FTSE100!”) to “celeb-spotting” over lunch or dinner, Corbin & King’s “cosmopolitan and Continental feeling” Grand Café by The Ritz is “always full of fizz”, even if the “bistro-style” Mittel-European fare has always been decidedly “formulaic”. A few accuse it of laurel-resting though? – in particular service (typically “very professional”) was patchier this year. Top Tip – “one of the few grand afternoon teas in central London that isn’t a total rip-off”.
“It should be a national monument!” – Corbin & King’s “tremendously atmospheric” (“mildly cacophonous”) European Grand Café by the Ritz has become a “perennial” linchpin of “glamorous” London life (“there’s always at least one A-list celeb eating at a nearby table!”). It’s the “fun and the buzz” that set it apart, however – the large Mittel-European menu is “very adaptable” but decidedly “not exciting” (even if “it does the best breakfast in town, bar none!”)
For pure theatre and excitement, Corbin & King’s “splendid”, “celeb-packed” London linchpin, by The Ritz, just can’t be beat; its brasserie fare is “solid” but “not the most exciting”, although the (power) “breakfast event” here is famously “the best in town”.
The Wolseley Restaurant Diner Reviews
"Food was distinctly average. Presentation poor. Service mixed - had to chase for bread despite there being a cover charge. Staff bitching to each other about other staff members. Overall a rather soulless experience. A Felt as though we were being pushed through on a conveyor belt. Also, poor value for money - 2 course lunch for two without alcohol was Pounds 100."
"What a complete restaurant experience. My best ever. Everything was great, the food, the old fashioned service and great ambience. Also did some celeb spotting. Not cheap but not extortionate. Well worth the money. Will be back whenever we are in London"
"Beautiful decor and reliable service, while cuisine is fine"
"Sadly all is slipping a bit, service not very attentive and even the the crowd is not as busy as before. On the other hand neither am I"
"Delicious food, service full of panache"
"Easy to get a table for coffee but was necessary to book for breakfast even at 10 on a weekday. Good place to meet up"
The Wolseley W1
Starting with Le Caprice in 1981, Jeremy King and Christopher Corbin built up one of London's most impressive restaurant empires of recent times. By the time they finally exited in 2002 - several million pounds richer - the group included no fewer than three of the five most popular restaurants in town (The Ivy, Le Caprice and J Sheekey).
How to follow such an act? The answer turned out to The Wolseley. Occupying a vast Edwardian building near the Ritz - built as a showroom for Wolseley Motors, but for most of the last century a grand Barclay's Bank - the place was certainly a 'wow' when, two years ago, it opened for business. London's dining public, after all, is unaccustomed to grandeur. Was this our answer to New York's Four Seasons, or Paris's Train Bleu? The newcomer certainly gave the initial impression that it might be a fit emblem for a city with pretensions to being the restaurant capital of the world. And if the food and service were a bit up-and-down - well, hey, it was early days.
It is no longer early days. True, the place is still hailed in some circles as something of a glamour destination, but standards of food and service over the past two years - as recorded by our surveys - have never risen much above good-to-middling. More worryingly, they have seemed, if anything, to be on a downwards path. If our recent meal is anything to go by, this slide continues.
Our first impression was in fact a non-impression. No Corbin or King. In most restaurants, you neither notice nor care if the gaffers are absent. Here you do, as it's part of the 'package'. It wouldn't really have mattered so much if the service had been any good, but, while pleasant, staff were often absent (or, if present, oblivious to customer needs). On the food front too, something was not quite there, in one case literally - partridge with bacon, the special of the day, was (inexplicably) served as partridge without bacon. It made a good emblem for a meal that rarely rose above mundane. Despite the architectural richness, that ambience similarly lacked pizzazz.
Including a couple of (very good) martinis, and a (rather disappointing) bottle of Dao (£45), the bill for two mounted to no less than £150 (including tip). So it was a good thing we knew we had enjoyed what is still sometimes tipped as one of London's great restaurant experiences. Otherwise, we might just have felt rather ripped off.
160 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9EB
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Mon - Fri 7 am - 3 pm, 5.30 pm - midnight; Sat 8 am - 3.30 pm, 5.30 pm - midnight; Sun 8 am - 3.30 pm, 5.30 pm - 11 pm
Last orders: midnight, Sun 11 pm