Having graduated from 18th-century shellfish trader to 21st-century seafood aristocrat, Wiltons is proof-positive that selling fish is an honourable calling. Since 1984, this impeccably groomed grandee has been making waves in its current home on upper-crust Jermyn Street, and prospective diners are still expected to arrive suitably attired (jackets and ties please, gents).
One fan thinks this blue-blooded veteran is “the best seafood restaurant in London”. We wouldn’t go that far, but it’s worth donning your best bib and tucker and switching off your electronic devices for a taste of Wiltons’ superlative molluscs and crustacea, lemon sole Véronique, halibut Newburg, poached turbot and other classics of yore.
If red meat is your idea of heaven, look to the carving trolley for trencherman lunchtime roasts (Romney Marsh lamb, free-range Blythburgh pork etc) or wait until furred and feathered game have their triumphant seasonal moments – think venison Wellington, roast grouse or jugged hare with roast squash and quince.
To conclude, summon up the past with a plate of soft herring roes on toast or take the sweet option by plumping for a nostalgic dessert such as Bramley apple and Victoria plum crumble with custard – or perhaps Wiltons’ legendary bread-and-butter pud.
The mood is hushed, archaic and defiantly old school, service is ultra-polite, and the wine list is generously endowed with vintage clarets and Burgundies from the great years. Needless to say, prices are exceedingly high – although astronomical bills are unlikely to trouble the largely male clientele in their Savile row suits and Churchill shoes.