Sometimes I love being in PR. In this job of pitching and schmoozing, you often find yourself having ‘casual’ lunches at places you’d never venture to on your own. Case in point: The Wolseley. I’d never been and hadn’t planned on going, but after setting up a lunch date with a journalist friend who works around the corner, it was an obvious choice.
At the height of lunchtime, The Wolseley can be a bit much to take in. Servers were scurrying around frantically busy, but trying desperately hard not to look so. The maitre’d curtly acknowledged my waiting friend in the bar with an air that I couldn’t figure out was frustration or disdain at the fact that we didn’t look very posh.
When we sat down, a few people came by to ask if we were ready for drinks. We ordered water to start, with the intention to look at the wine list, but I’m not sure they realised it. The server looked a bit put off, like we weren’t going to order wine at all. I started to get a bit agitated at the pretension of the place at this point. (We eventually ordered the Picpoul de Pinet 2009 Château de la Mirande, Languedoc, which was absolutely lovely).
Deciding to skip starters, and go straight for mains, I had the Toulouse Sausages with Puy Lentils ( £13.50):
The sausages were prepared expertly, with nice crunchy crust and tender inside. Unfortunately the flavour of the sauce with the lentils was very one-dimensional. The only way to describe it would be ‘monotonously salty’.
My friend’s Wiener Schnitzel (£19.00) was more of a winner:
The veal was very tender, and the batter surprisingly light. The sauce it was served with was salty, but not overly so (like my sausages!). Only downside was that it wasn’t served with any sides, so while £19 does get you a hell of a lot of meat, you definitely need to get a side of chips or veg to add a bit more dimension to dinner.
For dessert I had the server’s recommendation of Chocolate Liégeois (£7):
Gorgeously rich chocolate and vanilla ice cream served with an intensely rich whipped cream and chocolate sauce. In essence, a glorified chocolate sundae. A brilliant one though, indeed. I really enjoyed this.
All in all – two lunch mains, a bottle of wine, side of chips, two desserts (we also had a creme brulee), water and service came to £90. Definitely steep for lunch, and not really worth it in my opinion – especially considering the attitude. I’d like to try some other things at the Wolseley, but – not trying to sound too cheap here – only if someone else pays. I’m just not sure I’m willing to take a chance on it again.