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Wild Honey Restaurant, St George Street, Mayfair, London, W1

Clifford Mould found serious cooking at attractive prices for Mayfair

The name Wild Honey sounds about as unlikely as a Nightingale in Berkeley Square. It is of course derived from the previous occupants of the premises which was Drone's dining club with its plethora of oak panelling and a very clubbable atmosphere. The new restaurant Wild Honey is the brainchild of chef Antony Demeter and restaurateur William Smith. It is open daily for lunch and dinner and there’s a set lunch for an amazing £15.50 for three courses as well as an early evening menu from 5:30 to 7.00 p.m. which is priced at £17.50 for three courses.

The a la carte menu is not unlike the one at Arbutus, which we reviewed recently. The prices are a fraction higher, reflecting Mayfair rents, but are set to give their rivals a shock if not a serious run for their money. Head chef Colin Kelly has worked closely with Antony Demeter over the past five years and his menu reflects the same robust style.

A starter of braised pig's head might sound a bit scary, but all the meat is taken off and made into an unctuous terrine. It came with beautifully caramelised onions and a streak of potato puree. I had the warm smoked eel, which was incredibly flavourful, and the bones, (which often put people off this delectable fish) were barely noticeable. It was partnered with caramelised figs and a nice fresh salad including crisp shavings of fennel.

From a choice of eight robust main dishes, such as shin of Limousin veal, we chose belly of pork with borlotti beans and a carrot and cumin purée. The pork was tender and really tasty and I could hear the crunch of my pal’s crackling from across the table! I tried the slow cooked Elwy Valley lamb on a bed of crushed minted peas together with Boulangere potato served in its own miniature Le Creuset dish. Colin Kelly excels at these slow cooked dishes, where the flavours are concentrated and the textures deliciously soft and tender.

There is an amazing cheese board, but because it was lunchtime, we went straight onto the puddings. Here, I have to say, my friend fell out ever so slightly, taking issue with the description of wild honey ice cream which is advertised to come with crushed honeycomb. He was expecting actual honeycomb, and was somewhat miffed to discover that it was that more familiar sugary confection. However, this was a small inconvenience as he found that the ice cream was quite delicious. I ordered the French toast with plump slow roasted apricots. When it arrived, I took fright, thinking that I'd never be able to eat all of that. In the event it was so good that I polished off the lot with no trouble at all.

The wine list has been very carefully thought out and chosen. Yes, you could lash out £150 for a bottle of 1990 Gruaud-Larose, but for the more modest amongst us there are plenty of good wines in the teens and early 20s. Most of the wines are available in a 250ml carafe. The service was excellent: I was meanly trying to cut one of those fat apricots in two so that my friend could try a piece, when the waiter came up and said: "would a knife be helpful, Sir?" There was a man who had used his eyes.

This was a thoroughly delightful lunch, and I have no hesitation in recommending Wild Honey, just as I did Arbutus. Just to get your appetites going, I have included the lunch menu below.

Clifford Mould, August 2007

The cost of your meal: Starters £7.95 to £12.95; Mains £14.95 to £18.95 (no side dishes required nor offered); Desserts £5.95

Wild Honey, 12 St George Street, Mayfair, London W1S 2FB.
Reservations: 020 7758 9160

Lunch menu £15.50 - changes daily

Warm Lamb breast, Salsa Verde
Chilled plum tomato and sweet pepper soup

***

Icelandic cod, vinaigrette tomato and anchovy
Short rib of beef, borlotti beans

***

Wild woodland strawberries, vanilla ice cream
Montgomery cheddar

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