The Wolseley is the only other breakfast haunt of mine that still feels like it’s for special occasions, mostly because you usually have to book in advance instead of strolling in, something which feels antithetical to the whole spirit of breakfast to me. Mostly I’ve only been there for my own birthday, with a scattering of other people’s special occasions thrown in the mix. Almost every time I’ve been, I’ve eaten haggis.
Specifically, it’s a slice of haggis cooked in some way on top of a slice of fried bread and topped with two fried duck eggs. There’s…some sort of sauce of some kind. Tastes meaty. Anyway, the entire concoction scores points for uniqueness as it seems to be unavailable anywhere else in London and is heavy, meaty and delicious, which is basically how I’d describe the Wolseley itself.
Unlike Fortnum & Mason, all pink and white and clean, The Wolseley is dark and brown with a slightly menacing air, a large atrium full of background noise and bustle and the vague sense that you should be sat reading about the latest news from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, or possibly being Sigmund Freud.
The menu is exhaustive; fruits, granolas, yogurts and porridges; all manner of egg and bacon and sausage dishes from basic rolls to Benedicts to the full English; various stunt breakfasts that sound as if they’re from the 19th century: grilled kippers with mustard butter, caviar omelette, kedgeree, the aforementioned haggis.
Bottom line seems to be that if you can imagine it, it’s probably on the menu, and it’s probably pretty good. The last time I was there I had a tattie scone — that’s a potato cake for us Sassanaches — grilled tomatoes, grilled mushrooms and fried egg; all pretty straightforward items but steeped in flavour and intensity. Also there were mini pastries.
Next to us sat a man who had gone for half a pink grapefruit followed by porridge, and seemed genuinely delighted by them. I generally sneer at the weaker breakfasts, but who knows? Maybe it was a really amazing bit of grapefruit.