Café Wolseley, Unit 145, Pingle Drive, Bicester Village, OX26 6WD. Open Monday to Saturday 8.30am until 10pm and Sunday 8.30am until 9pm. For more information please telephone +44 (0)1869 220676 or visit www.cafewolseley.com Café Wolseley ensures tables are available on a first come, first serve basis, however, for advance reservations please call the restaurant or email firstname.lastname@example.org
With in excess of 1000 car parking spaces, a dedicated station with direct trains from London, and countless coaches arriving every moment, Bicester Village designer shopping outlet is a burgeoning phenomenon; a magnet for those prepared to travel far and wide for a retail therapy fix. Unsurprisingly the ‘village’ was already bustling come 10am last Saturday, with shoppers brandishing armfuls of ultra cool boutique bags, illustrating that some had arrived bright and early to make the most of the discounts on offer at over 160 stores.
Yet the one thing always missing at Bicester Village was an elegant, sophisticated all-day dining space to match the designer labels running the length and breadth of the ever-expanding high street. Looking around I imagine a large percentage of the crowd wouldn’t be seen dead eating a baguette in Pret or lining up for a crêpe. A dilemma recently overcome by the opening of Café Wolseley, a second outpost of the suitably glamorous Corbin and King Piccadilly restaurant, The Wolseley, the dynamic duo’s first venture outside London and the eighth in a group comprising The Wolseley, The Delaunay, Zédel, Colbert, Fischer’s, The Beaumont Hotel and Bellanger.
Design-led by Shayne Brady of BradyWilliams, with a double-volume vaulted ceiling dining space mirroring the central London flagship housed in the former Wolseley car show room, it’s Art Deco glamour all the way at the new Café Wolseley, complete with a striking black-and-white chevron floor, black lacquer fittings, hand-painted Chinoiserie murals and a large clock, reminding diners that they’re open for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, and of course dinner when the shops are shut and there are no further spending pressures to divert your attention.
A smart al fresco terrace is an addition their big London sister will doubtless be envious of, likewise the adjoining boutique showcasing a tempting array of shiny Wolseley branded gifts and food stuffs, along with a take away patisserie and coffee counter for those who wish to nourish themselves on the go. For others only too glad to settle back into a corner booth and watch the world go by over a rich pot of coffee and a full English or Benedict, the shopping can wait. In fact, after loading yourself up with all the good things in life you may find that you’ve gone up a clothing size, so it really is better to delay.
From the finest, flakiest Viennoiserie overseen by Head Pastry Chef, Natasha Rhodes, such as almond croissants and pain au chocolat baked on site every morning, to sourdough toast with best salted French butter you can’t resist slathering on, it’s the small things that make this an exceptional breakfast venue. The sourdough avocado toast was accompanied by cherry tomatoes and a fresh tomato sauce, perfectly poached eggs and a side of crispy bacon, while the full English my father tucked into was, he proclaimed with glee and a dollop of ketchup on his chin, “as good as you’ll find anywhere”. An oval platter of the finest quality produce with a side of toast and tomato juice. From American-style pancakes to lighter options such as nostalgic boiled eggs and soldiers (don’t forget to tuck your napkin into your designer collar) or the more trendy chia seed and superfood yoghurt pot, to my mind breakfast at Café Wolseley is all about indulgence; caffeine and calories I’m too thirsty and hungry to worry about.
Since the late, great A. A. Gill’s Breakfast at The Wolseley was published a decade ago, a morning repast at The Wolseley has been as synonymous as afternoon tea at The Ritz – fortunate then that the majority of tables at the new Bicester Village venue are offered on a first come, first served basis, although personally (and knowing the trend for queuing this country boasts), I’ll be booking well in advance for what is bound to prove more popular than PRADA. As they say, the first meal of the day is the most important.