For maybe what was the first time I had arrived at dinner earlier than my dinner date.

As I got stuck into to bread sticks, lathering the still-warm dough with butter and contemplating the strangeness of schnitzel, I realised that perhaps I forgot to tell Simon we were trying out The Wolseley City, which would explain his text reading, and the booking is in your name?

Sure enough, like a pillock, Simon had gone to the wrong venue. It’s an easy enough mistake to make when a) nobody explicitly told you otherwise and b) the original outpost in Piccadilly has become such a name, hearing the word sends your brain’s sat nav towards Mayfair, regardless of whether someone had casually mentioned you were trying out the new restaurant or not.

Ilford Recorder: The restaurant is cut from the same cloth as its Piccadilly sibling, but not a replicaThe restaurant is cut from the same cloth as its Piccadilly sibling, but not a replica (Image: The Wolseley City)

According to our waiter, we weren’t the first diners to confuse the two since The Wolseley City only opened in Monument last week. We also probably won’t be the last, and these cheery, eager waiters will inevitably tire of customers rolling their eyes and giggling at the muddle up.

But for now, they smile and regale stories of other customers’ confusion, because the City’s floor staff are a very nice bunch of people indeed. All new to the restaurant group and due to post-pandemic weirdness still impacting hospitality, General Manager Daniel Craig explained, staff that were lovely and interested were hired regardless of experience because you can polish a diamond up, to paraphrase. And this is spot on.

Unaffected by their grand surrounds, waiters remained personable and idiosyncratic, trying hard but not flawless, and there’s a real charm to that. Especially when you’re sitting in such a formidable dining room.

Ilford Recorder: The restaurant's interiors boast art deco grandeurThe restaurant's interiors boast art deco grandeur (Image: The Wolseley City)

It is hard to imagine The Wolseley City the “dustbin” it apparently was just before opening, as the restaurant’s interiors demand a moment as you step inside.

Baring the kind of family resemblance to its sister venue Michelle Visage would be proud of, The Wolseley City is cut from the same cloth as the Piccadilly location without being a replica.

Both venues share the high arched ceilings, the abundance of sleek polished marble surfaces which are broken up by linen-draped table settings, and a grand art deco style. They also share a timeless European sensibility. If you’ve been to The Wolseley Piccadilly, then you’ll know what The Wolseley City is all about.

Yet the King William Street venue will undoubtedly go on to be its own thing, a place for city workers to unwind and then perhaps unravel in, bellies full of schnitzel and Beaujolais, and maybe a few rounds of negroni. With its Bank locale, this is almost a given.  

Ilford Recorder: The treacle cured bacon chop is one of the several chops, steaks and schnitzels on the menuThe treacle cured bacon chop is one of the several chops, steaks and schnitzels on the menu (Image: Tim Winter)

The elegant European menu is extensive and boasts a classic appeal. Despite filled with the likes of Sturia Oscietra caviar served with bellinis and sour cream, and a decent selection of chops, steaks and schnitzels, vegans can also eat here no worries. And while the Turbot fillet may set you back £44.50 without sides, you can get a soup and salad for just over £20.

Endive, fourme d’Ambert and muscatel grape salad made my shortlist, as did the gin and juniper cured salmon and the souffle Suisse. Chopped liver also kept popping back into my mind, but only thanks to a Cath and Kim line which spends far too much time doing the rounds in my head.  

Although The Wolseley is known for its schnitzels, neither Simon or I chose to have one. He considered it briefly I believe, and I think breaded meat is weird.

Ilford Recorder: The restaurant puts on a breakfast spread as wellThe restaurant puts on a breakfast spread as well (Image: Tim Winter)

For starters, we had a plate of snails and a goat’s cheese tart. The snails arrived sitting in verdant oily pool appropriately garlicky. The little gastropods were quite hard to get out of their shell, but good once you got there. The goat’s cheese tart was a pretty, pillowy soft thing, with a flaky, buttery crust and slivers of sweet poached pear lounging across it for good measure.

We should have ordered sides with our mains but we forgot to, however Simon ordered steak frites, so was set with his pink slices of meat which arrived under a disc of zingy herbed butter and his decent serve of well-salted fries.

My platter of king prawns were dressed in a lemony herby brine. They were supposed to come butterflied, but I do love eating with my hands, so no loss there. A bowl of gem lettuce cups arrived as an afterthought, and whatever the tangy vinaigrette was they were dressed in, was very good.

Ilford Recorder: Marmalade bread and butter puddingMarmalade bread and butter pudding (Image: Tim Winter)

When Simon bit into his apple strudel, he declared it good with a positive grunt of sorts – not quite a gasp nor a moan – and my banana split was everything a banana spit should be.

It was a chaos of textures, flavours and consistencies, so many additives it’s impossible to pick out the hero ingredient. Once Simon finished his dessert, he helped polish off mine, hunting for the little bursts of nougat scattered in the creamy mess, as we drained the last of our Manhattan and espresso martini, ensconced in a world of Grande Dame ambience.

If Piccadilly is a bit out of the way, The Wolseley City has brought a bit of old school charm to the City.

Address: 68 King William Street, City of London EC4N 7HR