The Guardian Meets Tyne O’Connell

The Guardian Meets Tyne O’Connell, writer. She eats at the Wolseley in Mayfair, London, every day.

I stumbled across the Wolseley by accident when it had only just opened in 2003. I ordered the steak tartare, and I’ve eaten it pretty much every single day since. People find it extraordinary that I eat the same meal every day, but I don’t have the kind of palate that yearns for change.

Tyne O’Connell at The Wolseley. Photograph: Sophia Evans for the Guardian

Tyne O’Connell at The Wolseley. Photograph: Sophia Evans for the Guardian

 

I normally eat only one meal a day, usually around 7pm. I never cook for myself – I don’t have a kitchen at home, just a mini-bar-sized refrigerator. They serve what I like to call nursery food. My mother used to feed me raw fillet mince when I was in my high chair, so for me steak tartare is nursery food.

I live nearby, so it’s like a local cafe. The staff are always very accommodating. I broke my hip earlier this year, and now they put a special cushion on my chair. They always seat me at the same table; it’s where they put celebrities, so they’re not going to have people jumping all over them. It’s often occupied by people who are in a West End production, such as Bill Nighy or Michael Gambon; I call them my grandpa crushes.

Lucian Freud always sat at the table opposite mine, and he’d come in every day, too.

When I come in, all the waiters say hello, and often the actors will presume that they know me and jump up to say hello. I’ve had a cuddle from Tom Conti and Michael Gambon that way. I once sat next to Lauren Bacall and we accidentally put our hands into each other’s bags.

Lucian Freud always sat at the table opposite mine, and he’d come in every day, too. He travelled everywhere in the same black cab, so John the doorman would get Lucian’s cabbie to drop me home at night. This cabbie would regale me with tales about the Freuds, and how he’d spent a lifetime trying to persuade Lucian to paint his wife.

My daughter is 24 and will often call me and say, “I’ve had a terrible day. Are you at the Wolseley?” And of course I always am, so she’ll join me and I’ll buy her a glass of champagne and a slice of battenberg. Even when my ex-husband, who lives in Dubai, comes to town, he’ll just say, “Can you book?” The word Wolseley doesn’t pass his lips, because he knows that’s where it’ll be.

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