The Fresser

Two old classics did not disappoint -

A rain-soaked week in London did not ruin lunch at two long-standing favourites

June 19, 2019 22:16

Last week was a stonking week of eating. Not unusual in my line of work, but actually, not all weeks are like this. In three days, I ate at two old favourites, and had a third meal at a new kosher favourite. 

On Monday I braved torrential rain to journey The Wolseley with my parents and my gorgeous Aussie niece, who is over for a gap year before starting Uni in Canberra. 

It was soup weather, but I was sufficiently warmed by their Souffle Suisse — a twice-cooked, cheese-laden souffle in a pool of creamy sauce. With niecey in tow, my folks were desperate to spot a ‘sleb on the teenager's first outing to the traditional star-spotted eatery. We were rewarded with a former Arsenal and England footballer and pundit, albeit many years retired. Only my stepfather batted an eyelid.

Choosing pudding with grown ups is a cross between poker and dominoes. Everyone eyes the menu keenly. No one wants to be the first to confess to confessing they want a sweet treat. Someone jumps in, and everyone caves. Niecey has no such reserve — nor should she — and ordered a banana split. We followed in her wake — sharing a chocolate orange ice with its own jug of hot chocolate sauce, and raspberry yoghurt sundae – dotted with girlie mini pink meringues. It was all right, but I’d passed an outpost of Italian gelateria, Grom, on Piccadilly, and suspect the ice cream experience there may have been better. And cheaper.

A stray piece of glass in the chocolate one — apparently chipped from the dish — stopped us in our tracks. To their credit, the staff were swift to apologise and immediately comp the puddings. Impressive service. Even if the shard wasn’t. This classy eatery has stood the test of time for a reason. 

On Wednesday — with it again looking as if Noah may shortly sail up — I lunched at Islington stalwart, Fredericks. It’s a family firm, celebrating its 50th year this year. No mean feat in the current climate. My brother’s barmitzvah took place there 36 years ago! Co-owner, Matt Segal also celebrated his there in the same era.

The room was buzzing and dotted with simchas. A table of ten celebrating a wedding lunch; some office outings; an 80th birthday in their glamorous Club Room and a healthy number of tables filled with couples and groups lunching.

A look at the set menu told you why. At £17 for two courses and £21 for three, it’s chain restaurant prices in a luxe environment. Pea soup was fresh and clean-tasting, and served with its antithesis - a golden, crunchy cheese croquette oozing dirty indulgence. My dining partner, the Ad Director’s beetroot gravlax was shiny, pink and the perfect partner for the punchy, light-as-air whipped horseradish cream. Almost a plate licking moment.

Main course salmon on chunky caponade was a masterclass in fish cooking and AD’s giant couscous salad may have looked ordinary, but delivered on flavour. The golden slabs of pan-fried haloumi on top were lip smackingly salty. It also showed off some cheffy knife skills from the kitchen with perfect, tiny diced carrots and other veggies in the mix.

No pudding poker with the Ad Director who was straight in there with a rhubarb fool and lemon burnt cream (crème brulee to the traditionalist). The fool was rustic - how would you fancify a pile of cream and fruit? I love rhubarb and this was classic comfort food. The zesty lemon cream was also bang on in terms of flavour and more refined in looks.

It was the perfect lunch — no surprise that Matt sees many regulars more than once a week. At those prices and with the standard of food on offer, I’d be in all the time.

There's a reason a restaurant stands the test of time, and both The Wolseley and Fredericks could lead master classes on the subject. 

I’ll save the last meal — a wine pairing event hosted by Alex Haruni of with the fabulous Dalton winery at kosher eaterie, One Ashbourne — for the next instalment or my eatathon. Next stop - the gym.

June 19, 2019 22:16

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