It's half term - the last for Liz who retires at Easter - and a trip to the Hockney at the RA was booked. It was a fabulous exhibition and, after my disappointment with the Leonardo, restored my faith in the people who create these things. I want to go again. But I shan't because I won't have time to queue and neither will I be organised enough to book any of the extra tickets that have recently come online.
Afterwards we adjourned first to Fortnum and Mason as Liz had birthday presents to buy. Diamond Jubilee food goodies fitted the bill, and we then strolled Ritz-ward along Piccadilly.
The Wolseley is on the opposite corner of Arlington Street to The Ritz so although it is pretty posh it isn't really posh enough to compete. Photography is banned and I am presuming that this is because it is a self-styled celebrity haunt. Certainly they enforce the no-photography rule which is good to see. A couple of people were prevented from taking pictures whilst we were there although the only celebrity we spotted was Melvyn Bragg who these days doesn't exactly fill the gossip columns. Liz and I, it has to be said, are not the best people to be on a "rich and famous" hunt. There were 2 men who kept their hats on throughout lunch. She thought one was a ballet dancer and I surmised that the other could have been Terry Pratchett. I suspect we were both way off the mark. What is without question is that The Wolseley is the best place ever for people-watching.
It is a very bustly restaurant with everyone rushing around looking awfully important. The food was very good but I was a little disappointed that it wasn't exceptional. It was not, for example, as good as Les Deux Salons, with the exception of the puddings.
Liz began with a mixed beetroot salad which was fresh, spiky and refreshing. She followed this with 7 hour baked lamb which in her words "was unexceptional". She loved her dessert, a slightly enormous "petit pot de chocolat".
I opened with delicately fried whitebait with an artfully executed tartare sauce. the capers had just the right amount of crunchiness. This was followed by a medium-rare rib steak which was excellent as were the skinny fries - the gem salad was a little greasy. My ice cream coupe was the star for me - pistachio and nougat ice creams with hazelnuts and a butterscotch sauce. Just the thing for someone who's been on a diet since last September.
Liz had a glass of Corbieres, I stuck to mineral water (notification of my sainthood must be stuck in the post). With a decaff coffee (GQS take note) the bill including service was £112.
It has to be said that the service which was friendly was also fairly slow and more than a tad haphazard. It didn't matter though as it was such fun eyeing everyone up.
Next time I go I will make a point of going either for breakfast or afternoon tea.