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05 July 2007

Wild Honey

I had lunch today at Anthony Arbutus Demetre's new place, Wild Honey. It's on the site of a former Mayfair members club and gents barber (not at the same time) and looks like it: a long wood pannelled dining room with sweeping ceilings. The room is beautiful, much less austere than its Soho sister operation. They're still in their first week of operation, their soft opening, so all food was 50% off - which is nice. Despite it being a low-key week for them, they were virtually full at lunch today, the dining room having a nice hum. There is also a bar where you can eat. The sole diner today, was, as far as I could tell, the restaurant's PR woman, who I'm pretty sure had no idea who I was.

The food was very good although not vastly different in composition or quality from Arbutus. In itself that is no bad thing. On the occasions I have been, I've had very good meals at Arbutus, although I have recently read (registration req'd) things have got a bit sloppy, especially service. But my experiences have only been positive so if they can replicate Arbutus then that's great. But then again why bother? And why open somewhere so close to Arbutus? I think the owners reckon there won't be much cannibalisation between the two. The media types will stick to Soho, whilst the private equity partners will not need to venture out of Mayfair. They're probably right. But, if this is the case I find it a bit of a shame, it would be nice to see something slightly different, maybe a bit of progression in the kitchen. Given the similarities of the menu, I ended up feeling that it was one kitchen for both restaurants.

My food today was very good. My mackerel tartare to start was spot on, with beautiful, oily fish, cut by the sweet baby beetroot and a horseradish cream. There was some pointless greenery on the plate as well, an affliction I now remember from Arbutus, but overall a lovely dish. For main I opted for baked haddock, which was a great hunk of fish. I think it was a tad undercooked, but nonetheless it was a beautiful fish, belying the excellent provenance of their food. Dessert - well it was 50% off - was the eponymous ice-cream with honeycomb shavings. I preferred the honeycomb to the ice-cream which although had a beautiful consistency, didn't have much of a punch when it came to taste. Unlike my cioccolato from Scoop yesterday.

So the food was generally very good with beautifully sourced produce and I'm sure I'll be back, but I'm finding it hard to get too overexcited by the restaurant. In part it is because of similarities with Arbutus, it is also because I'm getting a bit jaded by this school of very good simple cooking. Whoah there a minute, what was that? Jaded by good food. Well sort of, yes. But, I have to caveat that by saying I'm jaded in a wholly good way. There are now lots of restaurants in London that serve very very good food, at reasonable prices. So when yet another good restaurant opens up I don't feel the need to jump up and down in ecstasy.

I think that at long last, we're getting the food we deserve both in restaurants and if we want it, at home as well. For example, I was particularly impressed to get a text from a close friend today to hear that her eldest child, all of 2 and a bit, had her first taste of sushi today. I was twenty when I had mine. I should add, this child is clearly wise beyond her years, she refers to me as "The Giant" both behind my back and to my face.

Finally, can someone tell me what wild honey actually is, how it differs from normal honey? Is it simply made by a hive of livid bees?

Google Maps
Google Earth (download)

Wild Honey, 12 St George Street, London, W1S 2FB, UK
Tel: +44 (0)20 7758 9160

What others think

As far as I can tell, it's too early days for much coverage. I'll update here if that changes.

Comments

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I can't imagine that wild honey works by beekeepers going out into the woods hopelessly looking for honeybombs. I can only assume that the term "wild honey" refers to honey that's produced from bees that are brought out into the wild to pollenate flowers that wouldn't generally be found on the beefarm. Leatherwood honey is a good example of what I would think of as wild honey. It's produced when beekeepers in Tasmania bring their hives into the Western Tasmanian rainforests to extract the nectar of the Leatherwood plant. The result would surely be "wild honey" in some sense. I hope that answers your question.

Thanks Trig. It turns out from Dos Hermanos, that the name is a result of Wild Honey's previous incarnation as private dining club Drones.

http://majbros.blogspot.com/2007/07/wild-honey-spore-is-on-wind-tonight-you.html

Excellent presentation last night. Can't wait to get going as I'm passionate about my allotment. Growing and cooking food go together so well.
I went into your Puglia piece and as I'm off there soon I shall make a note of the restaurants and maybe tell you about some more.
have you heard of or tasted vino cotto. It's a Puglian speciality - literally 'cooked wine'. Rather like balsamic vinegar but without the acidity. Wonderful over vanilla ice cream. Suggest it to scoop - that's if you can find a supplier.
Ciao Wendy

Hi, I was at the GFW Blogging "do" on Tuesday, great I thought, I came away inspired. It has taken me 3 days to decide on a name, and blogging.com would not let me have it! so I went to wordpress.

If you have a moment would you take a look, I realise that it's very basic, but I have to start somehow.

Also on wordpress under food (on the opening page) is a blog from someone who came on Tuesday, and made a few "interesting" comments about the GFW members, none about yourself though, but there are photos and some comments about Sainsburys.

gloucsteroldspot.wordpress.com

Jenny Kieldsen

Jenny

Thanks for your comments and I'm pleased you enjoyed the GFW event.

For those trying to get to Jenny's blog, there is a typo in the url she put up, it should read http://gloucesteroldspot.wordpress.com/.

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