Who among us would not wish to lunch or dine at Wiltons more often? The Spectator recently called this classic Jermyn Street restaurant ‘an almost entirely flawless institution’. And we agree—so much so that we have arranged for our Members to enjoy a complimentary glass of Champagne for themselves and their guests whenever they lunch or dine there.
This great British institution wins the title of London’s oldest restaurant if one counts its beginnings in 1742 as an oyster stall on Haymarket. It became a restaurant on Ryder Street in 1840 and received its first Royal Warrant in 1884. In 1942, the day a bomb fell on St James’s Church, it was owned by a Mrs Leal, who is said to have folded up her tea towel and remarked to the banker Olaf Hambro, who was sitting at the bar, that Wiltons was for sale. Legend has it that Hambro requested that the sale price be added to his bill. The Hambros still own it and since 1984, Wiltons has resided in Jermyn Street under its classic logo of a lobster wearing a top hat and clutching a champagne flute.
Wiltons is part of the fabric of British life: variously termed ‘the Tory Party at lunch’ and ‘the Establishment at dinner’, Michael Heseltine opining, ‘You can tell the state of the economy by how many tables are taken at Wiltons.’ So famous is it that it makes cameo appearances in the nation’s literature, as Walton’s in Jeffrey Archer’s novel ‘A Matter of Honour’ and as itself in ‘Downton Abbey’.
The reasons why Wiltons continues to thrive are not down to any sentimentality for the past, but through Wiltons’ continuing ability to do a good thing properly, as it always has. Neither fad nor fashion is allowed to deflect from the perfection of the fresh oysters or the native lobster cocktail, the perfectly poached wild turbot and the folded caviar omelette, the risen glories of twice-baked Cropwell Bishop Stilton soufflé, and the succulence of the carved roast from the trolley, with a classic finale of bread and butter pudding, peach Melba, apple crumble and all the other delights of British cooking which make Wiltons what it is. The quality of the service is a perfect match, so that all in all a visit is something to savour, and to repeat as often as budget allows. Which brings us to the price.
The Seasonal menu (Monday to Friday from 12 noon to 2.30pm and 5.30pm to 7.30pm, Saturday from 5.30pm to 7.30pm) currently at £35 for two courses and £43 for three, strikes us as eminently affordable and at lunch may well include the famous Wiltons’ oysters and the carving trolley of the day. For private dining, the elegant Jimmy Marks room—named after Wiltons Head Oysterman from 1942 to 1976—can seat up to 20, and up to 50 for a cocktail reception (inquire about your special Club rates for both).
As a Club Member, enjoy a complimentary glass of Champagne to toast your good sense in choosing Wiltons for your lunch or dinner, and the pleasure is all yours. To book your table, please call Member Services on 020 7399 2960 or follow the link below.
55 Jermyn Street
London SW1Y 6LX