If you’ve ever wondered how a lobster would hold a Champagne glass, St James’s institution Wiltons has the answer. Of course, given their 270-year history, they also have the answer to a lot more; such as how a lobster would drive a racing car, play rugby or ski – because Harry, the restaurant’s mascot has done it all.
While he’s been out living his best life, the rest of the team, led by Head Chef Daniel Kent, have carried on serving up the best fish, game and meat that the UK has to offer, without letting the small matter of the occasional address change or World War get in the way.
But if this longstanding commitment to traditional English hospitality leads you to believe the restaurant hasn’t changed since receiving its first Royal Warrant in 1868, rest assured that it continues to move with the times. The kitchen team was one of the first in the UK to sign up to the Chefs Against Plastic Waste campaign, and now sport whites made from recycled plastic bottles to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability. Long before this, Wiltons was leading the way in sustainable sourcing by making the most of the best ingredients the UK has to offer. That much has remained the same ever since George William Wilton first started selling native oysters from his Haymarket shellfish stall.
This Spring will be no different as Wiltons welcome the turn of the season with a new menu available from 5 April. Making the most of the British larder at this verdant time of year, you can opt to start with toothsome and sweet early season English asparagus with an egg yolk ravioli and chervil velouté or a rich marbled green garlic and Jersey Royal soup.
To follow, a light slab of poached sea trout comes brightened by a touch of horseradish cream, and served with pickled cucumber, edible flowers and sweet mustard seeds. The fish stands up easily against the stone fruit and faint smoke of the 2016 Louis Cheze“Ro Rée” from the northern Rhone.
But seeing as the Wiltons carvery trolley – a tempting staple of the dining room is almost as famous as Harry the lobster, you’d be a fool not to opt to have a saddle of Rhug Estate lamb expertly carved at the side of your table. The soft pink lamb is paired with a cauliflower purée and spring vegetables, and can be served alongside a strong, complex 2016 Côte-Rôtie.
The seasonal dessert is a cow curd cheesecake with no-nonsense Yorkshire rhubarb compote and a black pepper tuille which is best accompanied by the honeyed orange peel of the Domaine des Bernardins Muscat.
The whole six courses, book ended with hors d’oeuvres, coffee and madeleines will be served up on Friday 5 April to mark the change of seasons, and can also be paired with a selection of your favourite wines. The dishes will then be added to the a la carte menu for the spring.
Life seems to slow down over dinner at Wiltons in a good way. While there’s nothing stuffy or formal about the service, you can still feel the impression of the clock being slowly wound back to a simpler time. Of course, once dinner is over and you return to encounter Beau Brummel on Jermyn Street you may find yourself mildly dismayed to discover it’s still 2019. But at least it’s spring.
The Best of British Spring Menu is available for dinner on Friday 5 April. For more information, visit wiltons.co.uk/