If payday’s a long way off but you still want to eat out somewhere with a touch of glamour, how about afternoon tea?
When I want to eat beautiful food in sophisticated surroundings, but the finances don’t quite stretch to a fancy lunch or dinner, I head for a deluxe tearoom. The Wolseley cafe-restaurant on Piccadilly is a particular favourite of mine and is ideal for meeting friends, treating relatives, spotting celebrities or impressing a date.
The building was originally designed as a luxury car showroom in the 1920s, and has been beautifully converted into a European-style grand cafe with most of the original Art Deco features still intact, including the marble floors, huge windows and high ceilings. It’s light years away from your local greasy spoon, and serves breakfasts, lunches, and evening meals as well as gorgeous afternoon teas.
The place is very popular, so it’s advisable to book ahead unless you don’t mind waiting for a while in the busy bar by the door. The staff are efficient and friendly rather than stuffy, and they will seat you as soon as they can.
The menu covers bistro fare, Eastern European comfort foods, seafood, and, best of all, high teas and Viennoiserie. Given the quality and ambience it’s reasonably priced. On my last visit the waiter allowed me to split one afternoon tea between two people, which meant that we had a plate of finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, a choice of teas, and a small selection of pastries to share. It was more than enough for both of us, and our taste of the good life came in at below £10 per person. Worth every penny.
Tea at the Wolseley is held daily 3.30pm – 6.30pm, apart from Saturdays (3.30pm – 5.30pm).
The Wolseley, 160 Piccadilly, London W1J 9EB. Telephone: 020 7499 6996