Canton Tea at The Wolseley
If you’re looking for a reliable high-end London eatery, The Wolseley is hard to beat: A Grand European Café on Piccadilly nestling between The Ritz and Fortnum’s, open from breakfast to bedtime and always busy, often with famous faces who make it their own. Damien Hirst made hundreds of sketches there on the paper placemats, which are now in the British Museum. It’s where top chefs go as a relaxing place to eat well. The room is imposing, the service impeccable, the food superb, and the tea is by Canton. The Wolseley sits at the apex of London’s hyper-competitive restaurant scene. Best of all, it’s affordable and great fun.
Linda Roduner is the Restaurant Manager at The Wolseley and has worked for over a decade with Chris Corbin and Jeremy King going back to the heady days of The Ivy, their original and revered celebrity haunt in Covent Garden.
Australian-born Linda emphasises that, despite The Wolseley being known as the destination for tout-London (and Hollywood), it is not stuffy or intimidating. She talks about the awesome room, once a car showroom, then a bank – the horseshoe-shaped counter still evident. She enthuses about the great mix of customers and the friendly, informal atmosphere. This iconic space elegantly accommodates business people, families, tourists and famous faces. There is a sense of generosity at The Wolseley, not just with the food and the size of the teapots but from the spirit of the staff.
Frequent feedback is that customers feel genuinely valued. If they want their service brisk over a business meeting, they get it. For more leisurely lunches and tea, people are free to luxuriate. The Wolseley staff are trained to read customers well.
Linda’s favourite time is when lunch morphs into Afternoon Tea and she can see the customers’ delight at the tiered cake stands and the silver teaware. ‘The toys’, as she calls them, include vintage silver teapots and milk jugs and ingenious, gimballed tea strainers that require excellent hand-eye coordination.
Everything gleams in the light, without being flashy or brash. The Wolseley pulls off that wonderful magic trick: the illusion that it has been around for a hundred years. Even though this thoroughly modern, impeccably-run restaurant serves almost 1000 covers a day – 400 at breakfast alone, 200 for Afternoon Tea – The Wolseley exudes an air of unhurried charm that recalls earlier, gentler times.
Has anyone arrived for breakfast and stayed for lunch, Afternoon Tea and supper? Apparently so. Linda remembers an elegant Piccadilly perfumier, who hosted a succession of guests at his table throughout the day. Tempting...
Canton loves to train at The Wolseley; their staff are quick and engaged. And Linda makes sure they’re all kept up to speed. What is the provenance of the green tea? The breakdown of the blend in the English Breakfast? The mix in the Afternoon blend? Ask anyone there, they’ll know.
Linda’s personal favourite tea is the Afternoon Blend – for breakfast. There are no rules. This Himalayan blend with teas from small estates in Nepal, Darjeeling and some Assam for body, is a lighter, brighter version of the English Breakfast.
We urge you to head to The Wolseley and go crazy, try the Caramel tea with some Salted Caramel Florentines (divine and made in house). You could do a Linda and have an Afternoon blend with your full English at Breakfast, or enjoy the delicate, lingering taste of a fragrant Rosebud infusion after dinner.
But if you can’t get there quickly enough, the most popular of The Wolseley’s teas are now available in elegant caddies, so guests can take a bit of this special place home with them. They’re also sold in Selfridges, Harrods, Fenwicks and available to order online.