Seeing its beginnings as an oyster stall close to Haymarket in 1742, in 2019 Wiltons still stands proudly as one of London's oldest restaurants. With aristocracy amongst its frequent clientele, Wiltons is so discreet that upon strolling along Jermyn Street you would walk straight past if you did not know to look.
Ownership of the restaurant has passed through many hands but perhaps the most influential was, surprisingly, a British merchant banker. Mr Hambro purchased the restaurant after a bomb detonated nearby whilst he was dining there - adding the restaurant to the end of his dinner bill! The restaurant's new owner employed Jimmy Marks - as the new oysterman - who established Wiltons as the acclaimed institution it is today.
On the evening of 8th January, I was fortunate enough to try Wiltons's Burn's Night Tasting menu. Burns Night, or the Burns Supper, is a celebration of the life and legacy of Scottish poet Robert Burns. First celebrated by Burns's close friends and family, now the commemoration has become a much anticipated event in the national calendar as a chance to honour all things Scottish - food, music and art!
As a bastion of British cuisine, Wiltons itself is elegantly decorated. Upon arrival we were greeted with the utmost hospitality by the restaurant's waiting staff who served us tangy whiskey sours and guided us to the Jimmy Marks Room. Complete with plush, red velvet seating, gilt framed paintings and high ceilings edged with delicate cornice, the room brings the diner back in time, providing a truly magical dining experience.
The food was exceptional to say the least. The tasting menu is comprised of seven dishes and commences with Loch Ryan oyster with samphire and Scottish sea vegetable gin. Smoked Loch Duart salmon served on top of a delicate potato scone with a devilled egg followed, accompanied by a Mâcon Villages La Roche Vineuse wine. An exquisite cock-a-leekie soup was next and, of course, haggis with neeps and tattie purée.
We were then served a beautifully cooked Scottish venison with turnips and kale, paired with a smooth Saint-Emilion Grand Cru wine.
The menu concludes with Isle of Mull, Lanarkshire Blue and Corra Linn cheeses served with crackers and Scottish oatcakes and, finally, an option of tea or coffee with indulgent, buttery shortbread.
The Burns Night menu will be available from 5.30pm to 9pm exclusively on Burns Night, Friday 25th January. The menu is priced at £85 per person with the option of adding the wine flight for £68.
Go to www.wiltons.co.uk to make a reservation.