Will The Wolseley's egalitarian spirit soon be lost?

IT IS EASY to see why The Wolseley in Piccadilly (next door to the Ritz hotel) can be considered a British institution.

The stunningly elegant facade of The Wolseley was designed by the English architect William Curtis Green. The Venetian and Florentine inspired detailing, great marble pillars, and archways tell you everything you need to know about this self-made oasis of cultural artistry.

Choosing a restaurant is part of developing a longstanding relationship when you want to impress someone, and there is no better place to do so than The Wolseley. The restaurant is more than a dining establishment: it's also a fun place to be seen but also watch a sprinkling of well-known celebrities mingle alongside the hoi polloi. When I was there, seated on the table next to mine was the Daily Mail journalist Liz Jones bitching about men.

A restaurant should be about how it makes its's guests feel, and the Wolseley is as close to perfection as you can get. Upon entering this restaurant, you will be dining in one of London's loveliest dining rooms – a reassuring return to a classic decadence that will make you feel like you've stepped back to the 1930s. It is a great space that allows you to feel relaxed and is so polished that they can justify asking men to wear a jacket and a tie for dinner, and you would not bat an eyelid.

I'd describe the food as traditional but delicious. They also have an excellent patisserie chef, so the deserts are marvellous - so save some space. Additionally, the service is lovely with attentive, knowledgeable staff.

Sadly though, the Wolseley has recently been bought out by Minor International. There is now a fear that it will become a bland global chain under new Thai owners who have little understanding of its egalitarian spirit. Trying to recreate its perfect balance of excellent food with a relaxing and unique vibe, when even a seat next to the toilets is accepted with a smile, will be next to impossible to create anywhere else, let alone in multiple locations across the world. Let's hope The Wolseley manages to hold onto much of its uniqueness and doesn't become a bland multinational memory.

Copyright © Wayne Lèal
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