The Wellington Restaurant & Club - Winner of the Best Place for Xmas Party – Category: Lavish
… but his food is wonderfully balanced and beautifully presented in an almost understated fashion. His cuisine is firmly Modern European and Brett’s interest in steaks and beef is evident …
… their signature cocktails were outstanding and the service friendly and … the club was busy, but we didn't wait for drinks for more than a few minutes …
… it was clearly the area made for unabashed revelry, with proper sound system and cool, but not overpowering lighting effects … and the nicest thing about the club was the feeling of comfortable, intimate space …
… Wellington’s ability to seamlessly offer fine dining of the highest quality and then blend into an outstanding bar, finally metamorphosizing into fully blown amazing club experience … most impressively, all three experiences were delivered immaculately …
Type of venue:
RESTAURANT / BAR / CLUB
Food – SECOND TO NONE
Drink – OUTSTANDING
Party – SUPER COOL
Who was seen there:
Simon and Yasmin Le Bon,
What is the best place to organise a Xmas party? There is only one correct answer to that question – it depends.
If you are facing the unenviable task of organising a Xmas drinks / dinner / party for family, group of friends or colleagues or even the whole company and its key clients, it is often quite difficult to find a place that meets various requirements you and your party might have.
We at EatDrink.Dance have started to research the market for you. Over the next few weeks, we will try to pick the best places. However, “the best” really depends on the type and the size of the party that you intend to host, so we tried to create a few relevant categories:
- lavish corporate evening, which includes sit-down dinner or canapes, drinks and party afterwards, all hosted in a prestigious space, with exclusive use and generous budget
- small company, including sit-down dinner, bar and a club area to join the party with others – budget: reasonable
- group of friends, light dinner, drinks, late bar to stay and talk into the night, budget: Brexit is biting and there are so many presents to buy – modest
We start the series of reviews with the big fish of Sir Sugar kind – What is the best place to organise a lavish corporate evening? Before we start, let us declare how we measured the success and differentiate good from bad or indifferent?
Quality of food?
Range of options offered?
Quality of service?
Range of drinks on offer?
Speed and friendliness of bar service?
Range of entertainment options on offer?
Quality of entertainment space?
Overall balance of all services?
We decided against using any formal scales / scores, as we always feel that the most important judgment of any place is the compound one – overall impression. Therefore, adding individual scores can end up being misleading.
So, for us, the most important criterion in the above list is the last one – how balanced were the services. Very often, we have eaten at some of the top restaurants, thoroughly enjoyed the establishment’s culinary achievements, only to be slowly but thoroughly let down by a room where quality of lights or sound was so terrible that the enjoyment of the early part of the night was thoroughly diluted.
Equally, on many occasions, a night in a cool and popular nightclub, with top shows and DJs was preceded by McDonald’s style microwaved and barely edible food.
Big hotels are often the worst of both worlds – average, bland food, with a party where you feel like you are dancing in the airport arrival hall.
In order to ensure like-for-like even playing field, we focused on a relatively small geographic area in central London. We phoned, emailed, texted and sent WhatsApp and DMs and we finally decided to review the offers for three very different venues and their Christmas offers: Connaught Hotel, Bagatelle Restaurant and the Wellington Restaurant and Club.
The logic was relatively simple – we have been to each of the three on a previous occasion and we were impressed by some aspect of their service. In Connaught, it was amazing food by the Michelin star chef Helene Darroze. In the Bagatelle, it was a great Saturday brunch atmosphere. Finally at the Wellington, it was a great who-is-who party at the opening of their new restaurant in September.
We reviewed the prices, the menus and the rooms. While in this Big League category price is not going to be a crucial decision making feature, it is important to understand relative value for money between the offers compared.
All three establishments offer various options, depending on the party size and the requirements. Before we contacted the venues, we studied their web and social media. Connaught and Wellington have dedicated Christmas pages. Connaught’s is quite elaborate, while Wellington’s is quite inane. Bagatelle doesn’t have any visible mention of Xmas on their web pages and the enquiries seem to fall under the Private Hire category.
When we contacted them (admittedly under false pretences that we are organising an office Xmas party for approximately 100 people, with seated dinner, generous amount of drinks and party with DJ afterwards) all three venues responded quite professionally and provided their proposals relatively quickly.
The Wellington Restaurant was the quickest of the mark with the invitation to their Christmas Showcase – an event dedicated to people needing to book a Christmas party. We were offered samples of food and drink – small versions of selected items from their menu (the food was delicious and a small shot of Old Fashioned made me consider not going back to work). Connaught and Bagatelle offered us the tour of the venue and both hosts were polite and efficient.
During the follow-up, we visited all three venues for a normal mid-week dinner. We also studied the packages that the venues have emailed us.
And the winner is...
After some consideration, we have chosen the Wellington – and before you consider the question – no, we were not bribed by complimentary food and drink. It was the completeness and consistency of their offer.
Brett Duarte, Wellington’s Executive Chef may not be as big a name as Ms Darroze, but his food is wonderfully balanced and beautifully presented in an almost understated fashion. His cuisine is firmly Modern European and Brett’s interest in steaks and beef is evident – prior to joining the Wellington, Brett served as the Executive Chef of the Gaucho Group. His meaty offerings are nicely complemented by seafood and vegetarian dishes. From what I saw first hand Dover Sole was beautifully flaky and melted in the mouth, while I would happily have his vegetarian asparagus medley as a replacement for dessert. All food was served with a big smile (btw the Maitre D’ is a particularly personable old school Brazilian charmer called Marcelo) efficiently and without any unnecessary fuss. That would be
Food – Tick
At the bar before the dinner and in the Club after the dinner, we were served by the club’s Head Barman Jun and his number two, Angie. Their signature cocktails were outstanding and the service friendly and efficient. I don’t know about you, but I personally hate barman that try to tell me stale jokes or enquire about my personal life too vigorously. The club was busy, but I didn't wait more than a few minutes for a drink.
Drink - Tick
The atmosphere in the Wellington Club was quite distinct from the Restaurant – it was clearly the area made for unabashed revelry, with a proper sound system and cool, but not overpowering lighting. I believe I’ve heard of the two DJs – Seb Fontaine and Krystal Roxx – two such big names on the same night was fantastic. And the nicest thing about the club was the atmophere - a comfortable, intimate space, with the DJs only inches away.
Entertainment - Tick
We are happy to recommend any of the three venues. However, The Wellington’s ability to seamlessly offer fine dining of the highest quality and then blend into an outstanding bar, finally metamorphosizing into fully blown amazing club experience puts it ahead by some margin. Most impressively, all three experiences were delivered immaculately – you can truly enjoy Eating, Drinking and Dancing in this venue! We want Xmas to take place at least 4 times per year, because we want to spend all of them at the Wellie! And BTW, comparable package in Wellington cost some 20% less then the next competitor Bagatelle …..
The Wellington isn't about mixing business with pleasure, like some other establishments. Oh no: The Wellington is about mixing pleasure with EVEN MORE PLEASURE. Reviving the hedonistic spirit of its '00s heyday (if we tell you Kate Moss, Jude Law et al were regulars, you'll get the idea), it has reopened in a new home on Jermyn St - and, damn, it's rock'n'roll.
Established in 1832, the original Wellington Club has a storied history - in 1974 Lord Lucan was last seen there, while Kate Moss, Jude Law and Bono were all frequent guests in the 2000s. As with the original, the new establishment has an impressive collection of Damien Hirst pieces.
Think of a traditional gentlemen’s club of the type Bertie Wooster might set off some farcical narrative with a rash bet with an old school pal, then inject a huge dose of rock ‘n roll and modern art Astoundingly, for so achingly cool a nightspot, it’s also a bona fide foodie destination, with an impressive wine list making the dining here even more of a draw.