Friday, March 18, 2005

The Wolseley, London

This morning I did breakfast in style at The Wolesley, 160 Piccadilly, London, Tel +44 20 7499 6996. The venue and service were both superb. Unfortunately, they hard-poached one of my eggs. Nobody's perfect.

You'll be hard pressed to find a slicker breakfast establishment than The Wolseley, at least in terms of service, fit-out and fancy silverware. It's a magnificently restored building with high, barrel-vaulted ceilings, urbane crowd, and an industrious, deals-being-done buzz. I was flanked by a private equity fund manager on one side (polishing his pitch with a PR flack, if I over-heard correctly), and an erudite pair of book publishers on the other (looking smart, yet comfortable in cords and tweed).

The staff at The Wolseley deserve special mention. Neatly decked out in black and grey, they were both professional and attentive... "Newspaper, Sir?" Within minutes, a crisp, fresh copy of the FT is hand-delivered for my reading pleasure. First impressions: this place is very good.

It was, therefore, something of a disappointment when I slid my elegant silver knife into the Eggs Benedict, only to find a hard yolk and soft muffins lurking below the hollandaise. Luckily, yolk #2 was still a little runny, so it's possible that yolk #1 was an anomaly. Only a repeat visit will tell. The hollandaise was good, as was my side of potato roesti (crispy outside, soft inside), although a bit too salty for my taste.

Despite the disappointment of the Benedict, the Wolseley breakfast menu gave me lots of good reasons to come back for a second opinion. An excellent range of pastries, fruits, cereals and juices, and eggs dishes from the simplest to the most sublime... two boiled eggs with soldiers, crab hash with poached eggs, and fried duck eggs with Ayrshire bacon, to name just a few. Or, there's classic British fare like grilled Manx kippers with mustard butter, and "The English" with eggs, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, tomato and black pudding.

This was the first time I've come across Eggs Arlington Royale, which, at 26.50 (pounds sterling) for a large serve, must be packing some pretty exotic ingredients. This would have to be the unbackable favorite for most obscenely expensive egg dish on the planet. But don't worry, you can still get an omelette with gruyere and Cumbrian ham for just over 7 quid.

14/20 "FT with your eggs, Sir?"

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