When the endlessly glamorous Café Wolseley – the first restaurant outside London from renowned restaurateurs Corbin & King – arrived at Bicester Village last year, globetrotting shoppers rejoiced, flocking to the picturesque Oxfordshire destination, just 46 minutes from London. Now we take a look at The Wolseley, the original sister restaurant in Piccadilly, and how the British institution came to be…
That famous entrance. That black-and-white marble floor. Those soaring ceilings and the general bustle of a restaurant that is always at the top of its game. Arriving at The Wolseley is always a thrill. Every Hollywood star flexing their muscles in Theatreland becomes a regular. But even without the famous faces, it’s the sort of place to sit awhile at your smart white-clothed table, perhaps with a glass of champagne, watching the compelling comings and goings of fashionable London.
In the middle of Piccadilly, the building was built in 1923 as a car showroom for Wolseley cars, before spending 70 years as a Barclays Bank. Restaurateurs Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, of The Ivy, Caprice, Colbert and Delaunay fame, swept in in 2003, rescuing the building from its humdrum existence and renovating it into the glamorous hub you see today. In came the classic black, white and gleaming brass theme and a new imagining of the gilded, nineteenth-century cafés of Paris, Vienna and Budapest had arrived in London.
The Wolseley, however, is much more than a restaurant. It is a meeting place, a spot to see and be seen, drawing in local luminaries and savvy locals in search of buzz and schnitzel. And it’s relaxed. You don’t have to dress up if you don’t want to, although no one will blink if you arrive fully suited and booted. The menu is simple but sophisticated, a traditional and pleasingly thorough selection of French and British classics. Breakfast should really be eggs Benedict and for the rest of the day there’s the famous steak tartare, seafood platters, and a light-as-air soufflé Suisse… anything, anytime. Why impose rules?
As the years roll past and the legend beds in, The Wolseley’s inherent glamour merely gets more textured, more intriguing. This is not so much a restaurant as a destination. A spectacle. With famously fabulous food.
Now with Café Wolseley at Bicester Village, guests can experience a taste of the flagship restaurant for the first time outside London.