The Great British Summer. That elusive season, so named “Great” because if it actually happens, I challenge you to find a better place to be than London. Spirits soar, everyone looks beautiful and ladies strip down to bikinis in Royal parks. More often than not though, the skies are grey and threatening a downpour. But I’ve found a place where the Great British Summer shines all year round, whatever the weather. The Wallace Restaurant is situated within The Wallace Collection, a museum with a world-famous range of fine and decorative arts. Tucked away behind Marylebone High Street on Manchester Square, it has to be one of London’s prettiest spaces and best kept secrets.
Perhaps it’s the traditional pink walls, flooded with light from the glass canopy, which give me the sense of dining al fresco, minus the uncertainty. Or the beautiful trees, sculptures and vases of flowers scattered round the room, reminiscent of an Orangery from a bygone era. It’s certainly hard to think of a lovelier place to spend a Saturday afternoon than lunch at The Wallace restaurant, run by Peyton and Byrne whose founder restaurateur Oliver Peyton, is renowned for championing regional British cuisine.
My lunch companion and I started with pan-seared scallops, sweet and delicate against the rich cauliflower purée, with crisp capers adding the right hint of saltiness. Followed by buttery lemon sole with brown shrimps and that green jewel of the marsh samphire for Alaina. Whilst I devoured tender roast chicken, with morel cream and deliciously subtle wild garlic for my main course. We shared a side order of peas a la française, which had a glorious whiff of Elizabeth David about it; scrumptious little morcels of bacon melting into summer’s sweetest garden peas.
This is a rare treat of established European brasserie style classics reinvented. Where all the ingredients individually sing of the Great British Summer I know, the scent of wild garlic underfoot, podding peas and seafood lunches on Cornish holidays. At The Wallace Restaurant, Peyton & Byrne celebrate everything that is great about modern British food, sourcing treasured seasonal produce and cooking it to perfection in a contemporary and elegant setting.
For pudding we both plumped for the chocolate fondant, its sublime molten state worth waiting for (whilst it is cooked to order). The pale green pistachio ice cream contrasting so beautifully against the dark chocolate and balancing intense cocoa and sweetness, a quality I rarely find in puddings. All washed down with a pot of my favourite tea Lapsang Souchong, its smokey characteristics are delightful paired with anything sweet. It is said to be the first black tea from China and I don’t know why so few establishments serve it, top marks Peyton &Byrne!
Staffed by a knowledgeable team whose service was exemplary and unobtrusive. A four hour long lunch is testament alone to how much we enjoyed ourselves! I’m told the canopied Restaurant is just as beautiful and atmospheric in winter, if you are lucky enough to see snowfall or the more probable… tipping it down. In my own kitchen I travel vicariously through cooking, I might find myself holidaying this summer in Peyton and Byrne’s.
The Wallace restaurant is available for breakfast, lunch, dinner and afternoon tea, check the website for details and bookings
Isla Simpson was a guest of Peyton & Byrne at The Wallace Restaurant.