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.
“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”.
“Captains of industry rub shoulders with A-listers” at Corbin & King’s perennially “exciting” grand café/brasserie, by the Ritz – its “old-school glamour” makes it “great for impressing people”; the “hit ’n’ miss” food is not really the point, but absolutely everyone agrees this is the home of “the most glamorous breakfast in town”.
The Wolseley Restaurant Diner Reviews
"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"
"Eating at the Wolseley is like a small piece of theatre. The simple yet effective dÃ©cor, the different tribes of diners, the hubbub and of course a consistently high stand of European cuisine and attentive service still make this one of London's best restaurant experiences."
"But you dont go there for the food"
"Plenty of choices from a large menu. Very attentive service. Pre theatre so needed to be speedy but it never seemed rushed. Slightly spoilt by crowded feeling from close tables nearby.Food was beautifully cooked and presented."
"Lucky to get a table for 6 on spec on a Saturday afternoon. Well crafted central European fare. Friendly but hurried service. Lovely surroundings and a real buzz about the place."
"A treat which could offer a first turnaround or let you take time to enjoy the experience. Great menu choices. Although the tables are packed in quite tightly there was such a good lively atmosphere that you could hold a conversation without worrying about being overheard."
"Great for Business breakfast"
"Can't be beaten for an after-theatre supper"
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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all day 7 am, Sat & Sun 9 am - midnight
Last orders: midnight, Sun 11 pm