Set lunch menu: £22.50 for three courses. Also available pre theatre.
Why I chose it
Set in the stylish St James's area, carrying two big names in food, I've been intrigued to try Wheelers for some time.
Downsides or drawbacks
What I ate
- Potted duck & sourdough
- Sea bream with samphire & roasted tomato
- sticky toffee pudding (though not strictly on the set menu - see below)
The food quality was adequate but this felt most like a set lunch of the meals I tried in this series. Probably not attributable to the set lunch format however, bread was particularly poor being two slices of a baguette (from local supermarket?), strangely placed in the middle of my place setting like it was an amuse bouche. The potted duck for my starter was the star today and I really enjoyed this. The sea bream however was nothing special, served in a smallish quantity bulked out by more samphire than I can ever remember seeing on a plate. It felt like they were using up sea bream that didn't make the cut for the alc and which otherwise had no future. After, they gave me the pudding list, but the full alc version; when I pointed out that I was on the set lunch, they said I had the menu now and was free to choose any dessert which was nice of them. Disappointed with my main, I had a sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream (not available on the set lunch) which was a nice, if run of the mill, dessert.
Interestingly, the table next to me were also having the set lunch menu and ordered the fish and chips, which actually looked very good and made me a little jealous. The fish and the chips were in good quantity also.
As above, I felt the main course was bulked out by samphire.
Service was professional and attentive regardless of me being a set lunch diner. There were lots of staff buzzing around, I never had to wait for anything, though smiles and an affable attitude were concentrated very much in the younger members.
Meal deal verdict
With three courses here £22.50, I felt the set lunch provided what you paid for, with nothing really extra on offer. At Social Eating House (set lunch £21.50), I felt I had received a better quality meal than I had paid for and therefore had achieved exceptional value. In that sense, at Wheeler's seems to me not so much a deal, simply a cheaper menu option.
With one glass of house white plus service, the bill came to £31.50, near identical to New Street Grill where I drank a bottle of champagne for that same money. Accordingly...
Additional note on Wheeler's.
There are two dining rooms in Wheeler's, a respectable front room, and a back room that is lined with largely fetish artwork. Possibly best avoided if you are taking your parents (unless you deliberately want to start a conversation about something very personal).
I am unclear whether Marco Pierre White is an owner or consultant here, my waiter didn't know, and conceded that the only time he had ever seen Marco was on TV.
While Wheeler's of St James's and Wheelers of Whitstable were for some time run by the same owners, the restaurants are now only connected by name.