The Wolseley

Last Updated on : 7th February 2024

Burns Night Dinner

For those of you unfortunate to read this column regularly, you’ll remember that I am ambivalent about Green Park’s Grand Brasserie the Wolseley. Oh yes, the location is perfect, the interior one of the most striking in London and the breakfast one of the best you can get anywhere on expenses.

I have though always found dining there a somewhat underwhelming experience, the prices that bit too high, the atmosphere a bit lacking, and the food competent rather than brilliant. It was then with a touch of trepidation that I booked in recently for a Burn’s Night set menu dinner.

Arriving just before our allotted booking time of 7, we were nevertheless whisked straight to our table. The Wolseley was originally a car showroom, and then a bank and has inherited an extremely grand interior. Our table was to one side of this with a great view of the kitchen, and to me felt more like a friendlier more atmospheric spot than in the centre of the room.

Anyway, I wasn’t there to pontificate endlessly about the seating, comfortable as it was. More I was there to honour the memory of my Scottish great grandmother, though I never met her and I’m not that certain of what her name was. That it was an excuse to drink Scotch with dinner is a baseless lie, and I’ll fight anyone who says so.

The choices for the dinner were limited to 1 per course, and they were as you’d expect Scottish classics. To start with there was Cullen Skink, for the main it was naturally haggis, neeps and tatties and pudding a fine looking cranachan, though this went untried on this occasion. To sit alongside our Caledonian feast, we choose a house sauvignon balance whose flavour improved the longer you were drinking it.

I’ve always had rather an antipathy to fish when mixed with other ingredients, fish soups have always had a bit of an ick factor for me. I was rather surprised when I found myself literally lapping up the creamy smoky goodness of this tasty thick repast. The smoked haddock flavour shone through as it should, but the cream and quail’s eggs made this feel more like an entire dinner than simply the curtain raiser.

Unlike fish soups, I have always had a soft spot for offal not apparently shared with most people. I also specifically have a taste for haggis, and even tried stalking them once on a short break in the highlands. This haggis was obviously free range, and had a lovely oaty texture, soft and delicious as were the neeps and tatties.

As there was no piper around, I recited what I could remember of address to a haggis from memory whilst drinking the powerful and rather large measure of Scotch I had purchased for the occasion.

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great Chieftain o’ the Puddin-race! Ta de dum de dum something.

It transpired that my knowledge of the works of Robbie Burns was more theoretical than actual, though I’m suspicious that the less than wee dram I was imbibing might have hindered my recall somewhat.

The bill when it came was rather more than I had anticipated, but this was I think more to with the cost of the whisky rather than the food, with the starters at around £11 and the mains around £24. We were also pleasantly surprised to receive Macallan gift bags with a commemorative glass and cocktail included.

The service that night had been both fast and friendly, making you feel that they were glad you came. There had been atmosphere, and even a little bit of theatre. The warm feeling I had of contentment I had as I aimed my various legs at the door made me realise, I might have to revisit my opinion of this glamourous place, even if it was for just one night a year.

The Wolseley

160 Piccadilly, St. James’s, London W1J 9EB

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