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The Wolseley City review: The new all-day brasserie bringing glamour to the Square Mile

The grand dining room in EC4, with its buzz and elegance, is a stunning iteration of the original

Twenty years on from the arrival of The Wolseley on Piccadilly, a second site has opened in London – The Wolseley City – and it’s a doppelganger to the original. The all-day café-bar-restaurant, in the beating financial heart of the City of London, serves up classic European dishes and a glamorous ambience in an ornate art deco setting. Here’s why The Wolseley City is our restaurant of the week.

The Wolseley City Review 2024: The New All-Day BrasseriePin

The Wolseley City opened last November, 20 years after the original landed in Piccadilly in the November of 2003. I started going to the Wolseley in the November of 2003, and went pretty much weekly for breakfast for the next few years that I was working at a magazine in town. My colleagues and I must have eaten our way through the entire menu a hundred times over. 

The Wolseley City Review 2024: The New All-Day BrasseriePin

My favourite dishes were, and still are, the kedgeree and the prunes (yes really) though I still pine for the crêpe complète which they dropped many moons ago (happily I have the recipe in my dog-eared copy of the late AA Gill’s Breakfast at the Wolseley). But somewhere along the line, things changed. I started working from home; it got too hard to get a table; I switched allegiance to The Delaunay; and then there was that unpleasant takeover business in 2022, when I concluded that that was probably that for me and The Wolseley. 

The Wolseley City Review 2024: The New All-Day BrasseriePin

Until, that is, the opening of the new Wolseley City in November 2023, exactly twenty years after Jeremy King and Chris Corbin launched the original. Reading all about the second site (I don’t count the one at Bicester Village), its two bars, its two private dining rooms, and the ornate interiors, fitted out to the tune of £10m, I’m reminded of how much joy that weekly dose of affordable luxury brought to my life. The concept feels as timeless now as it did then: an all-day café, bar and restaurant modelled after the grand cafés of Vienna and Paris, places where people of all walks of life can go in at any time, dressed however they please, to read the paper with a slice of Sachertorte or guzzle Champagne and a plateau de fruits de mers.

So it was that when my old university friend Jane called needing cheering up, I suggested we check out the new Wolseley City together. Even before walking through the door, I experience a great wave of nostalgia. The 1920s bank building at 68 King William Street, for a time a House of Fraser, is now immediately recognisable as if not the Wolseley than a Wolseley, magically teleported from Piccadilly to Monument, complete with bowler-hatted doorman. 

The Wolseley City Review 2024: The New All-Day BrasseriePin

“The 1920s bank building at 68 King William Street, for a time a House of Fraser, is now immediately recognisable as if not the Wolseley than a Wolseley, magically teleported from Piccadilly to Monument, complete with bowler-hatted doorman. Inside, things are even more uncanny. The Wolseley City sounds like The Wolseley (the buzz, the clatter) and actually smells like The Wolseley. Don’t ask me how.”

The Wolseley City Review 2024: The New All-Day BrasseriePin
The Wolseley City Review 2024: The New All-Day BrasseriePin

Inside, things are even more uncanny. The Wolseley City sounds like The Wolseley (the buzz, the clatter) and actually smells like The Wolseley. Don’t ask me how. We’re shown to our table in the ‘horseshoe’ in the centre of the dining room – the ‘inner circle’ as we always knew it. Even better, our table is an oblong, not a square, so Jane and I can sit next to each other on the banquette, looking out. I always think this is quite the nicest way to eat with friends. 

The Wolseley City Review 2024: The New All-Day BrasseriePin

The menu has been only gently updated over the years. You can now get a green juice with your breakfast, for example. New dishes created for the City include a short rib suet pudding and a treacle-cured bacon chop with double-fried egg and sauce diable. The joy of The Wolseley is that there’s no pressure to try anything new; you can just have what you fancy. Some days that might be a chicken salad, another day a vast plate of choucroute, another day maybe a banana split. 

The Wolseley City Review 2024: The New All-Day BrasseriePin

On our visit, to go with our bottle of Chablis, Jane has a classic, an endive, Fourme d’Ambert and muscatel grape salad; I have another, prawn and avocado cocktail. Both are simple, well made, and blessedly free of ‘twists’ and frills. To follow, huge schnitzels, chicken for Jane, Wiener Holstein (with fried egg and anchovies) for me. We sit cutting into our schnitzels, laughing, drinking and chatting, more engaged in our conversation and each other’s company than we would be in a fine-dining setting. The Wolseley City has won me over.

THE LOWDOWN:

Meal for two (with wine): £200

Signature Dishes: Soufflé Suisse; Wiener Schnitzel; Steamed Short Rib Pudding

What to drink: Champagne


68 King William Street, City of London, EC4

thewolseleycity.com

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