A night out at The Wolseley sounded like a rather grand affair and we treated it accordingly,

Even if dinner wasn’t being served at their famous restaurant in St James’ but instead their new sister cafe at Bicester Village we still dressed up to the eyeballs.

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Tottering off the train at the outlet village’s own station in sky high heels, we were immediately incongruous amongst the crowd of luxury shoppers still thronging the streets.

Unlike us, they were all dressed in jeans and trainers, albeit designer, with which to carry their own body weight in clothes purchased that very day.

Despite being rather self conscious on the short walk to the site where Villandry had been, we were still stopped in our tracks by the Cafe’s style: the elegant exterior, unmistakeably Wolseley-esque with its black gloss, mirrors and art nouveau decor, making it sexy as hell.

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The entrance hall itself with its chequered floor and black and white colour theme was akin to boarding The Orient Express, setting the tone for ourl meal ahead.

The raised ceiling gave it a much more lofty appearance than the former Villandry, which was a vastly overpriced and stingy French bistro, whose name spoke volumes.

Cafe Wolseley was making the effort to be smart: its waiters and waitresses impeccably attired, the service immaculate, the food and drinks prompt.

It’s just that while we were sipping our perfectly chilled classic martinis, we couldn’t help but notice that the majority of the other tables were full with families eating burgers, their shopping bags balanced at the side of the tables, a transitional meal rather than a special occasion.

We carried on regardless, enjoying the tartes flambees, a version of a pizza from Alsace. Thin and crispy, ours was served with mushroom, truffle and marjoram (£7.95) presented on a raised platter. The goats’ cheese, honey and thyme or classic bacon and onion were almost as tempting.

I liked the menu, it took me back to more refined days, my parents’ dinner parties, when avocado vinaigrette and soufflés, spaghetti, salmon and roast cod were the norm.

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We had our eye on the schnitzels however, until our waiter told us they had been so popular they had sold out, so we had to another excellent cocktail while we reassessed. It was certainly The Wolseley’s menu, just more bijou, entries such as caviar and oysters replaced by a more BV friendly burger. Shudder shudder.

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For starters then, a firm, light and compact flavour chicken liver parfait served with Sauternes jelly (£9), the latter being a grape conserve. Then the said avocado with vinaigrette which was a rather eye-watering £7.95 considering it was exactly that on a plate, and the prawn cocktail £11.50, which was delicious and juicy.

The minute steak with bearnaise sauce, gem heart salad and medium cut chips £19.75, was another must and the roast cod with leeks and a lemon dressing (£18.50) was as beautifully cooked; simple and clean. The Suisse soufflé (£12)was more indulgent, although the crunch of the gem salad and dressing cut through that wonderful thick cheesy sauce, mopped up with some well cooked chips (£4.75).

Accompanied by a wonderful bottle of rose, chosen by our waiter Adam, it was quite an occasion and we felt like characters in an Agatha Christie novel. Only the children eating burgers on the next door table spoiled the fantasy. However well disguised, it was hard to ignore that we were ultimately eating dinner in a shopping centre.

The desserts were as classic and unfussy – creme brûlée, vanilla cheesecake and the lemon curd and yoghurt ice cream with lemon curd, crispy meringue, whipped cream and a pistachio tuile (£8) which arrived in a sundae glass and was eaten as fast as a cone at the seaside.

But on the whole we ate leisurely and took our time, unlike everyone else, because the trains run late.

So yes, Cafe Wolseley is a wonderful addition to Bicester Village and suits its transient but wealthy clientele. But whether it manages to keep a leg in both camps and attract the locals as well remains to be seen. Hopefully they will be suitably curious because it’s certainly a notch above everything else on offer in the area.


A: 145 Pingle Drive,

Bicester Village OX26 6WD

T: 01869 220 676

W: cafewolseley.com

HOURS: Breakfast: all week 8.30am to 11am; afternoon tea daily from 11.30am to 6.30pm; all day dining Monday to Saturday 11.30am to 10pm, Sunday 11.30am to 9pm