After a few hours at the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition, it was time to get our fill of sophisticated finger sandwiches and cakes at The Wolseley. A cafe-restaurant in the popular Piccadilly area of London, The Wolseley holds prime position next to the well-known Ritz.
We had a table booked for afternoon tea, but had finished at the exhibition a bit sooner than we’d thought. Not wanting to waste the opportunity of being in London, we decided to have a look round the area. We slowly made our way toward The Wolseley, but it really isn’t that far and it didn’t take too long. So we stopped off the in the upmarket Burlington Arcade, which is a parade of shops that made me feel as if I was strolling down Diagon Alley in Harry Potter. The windows are all filled with luxurious goods like jewellery, cufflinks, jumpers and slippers. The shops are all tiny – you wouldn’t fit more than about 10 people comfortably in each. It’s quite nice though, as you’re able to see all that is on offer through the huge windows. Window shopping done, we made our way down the road, past a caviar shop, past Fortnum & Masons and the Ritz, and arrived at The Wolseley. As you step in the door, you’re greeted by a curtain. I can only assume this is to protect those inside from prying eyes, but we stepped through and first impressions were brilliant. We stepped right in to the restaurant, which was smaller than I thought it’d be.
To our right was a small bar, so we checked in with the concierge and waited in the bar for our table to be ready. The restaurant is well packed with tables, but not to the point you’ll have to make friends with those on the table next to you. There are two mezzanine areas, each with two tables. And to my joy, the waitress took us up the stairs and to one of the mezzanine tables. Score! We had a great deal more privacy than everyone else, with just one other table near us. No one needed to walk past us, and we had a great view over the rest of the restaurant. From our prime position, I could soak up the stunning architectural features of the place: the hanging lights, the huge windows and the funky checked floor. I have no idea what era this kind of place reminds me of, but I definitely felt like I should have had a feather in my hair and a feather bower draped over my shoulders.
Once we’d been seated at our table, our tea order was taken. I don’t really like tea, so I opted for a yummy cappuccino, but there was a tea menu that shows all the different teas on offer. My boyfriends mum is a tea lover, so it was great for her. And then came the main attraction – the afternoon tea! For those afternoon tea rookies, it comes on a three tiered plate…thing. Each set of plates is for two to share, and the bottom plate held the yummy finger sandwiches. I love ham sandwiches, so was disappointed there weren’t any of those, but we did have egg mayo with cress, chicken with tarragon, salmon, cucumber with cream cheese and a sundried tomato bread option.
Finger sandwiches out of the way, we skipped the next tier and went straight for the scones on the top plate. Two fruit scones each, with clotted cream and jam. We weren’t sure of the jam and cream etiquette (apparently there is one) and couldn’t decide whether the jam should go on first, or the cream. Each of us went for a different method, but I just put jam on half the scone, cream on the other and mashed them together, before twisting to get a real mix. Not how it should be done, but it was more fun, and nice that our biggest worry was which should go on first! By the end of the scone plate, I was absolutely stuffed. We hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and it was about half four by that time. You’d think I’d be ravenous, but the fancy sandwiches and scones were filling. That just left six, yes six, cakes for my boyfriend to munch away on. They’re only mini, so it’s not as bad as it sounds, but he coped pretty well. I’d definitely recommend trying the afternoon tea here. The staff were lovely, the food was lovely and the restaurant is really nice. They also offer a cream tea, which I think meansjust tea and cakes, or a celebration tea which is afternoon tea with champagne!
- It’s a good idea to book ahead. I think they keep some tables aside for walk-ins, but better safe than sorry.
- There’s a postcard box as you head towards the toilets – they’re posted free of charge if you want to show off to family & friends where you’ve been!
- You can have a proper meal here from a menu too, not just afternoon tea.
- The nearest tube station is Green Park, but if you’d like a nice walk there get off at Piccadilly Circus or Hyde Park Corner.
- If you’d like to make a day of it, there’s plenty of shopping about with Fortnum & Mason, Burlington Arcade close by, and Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square a short walk away.