It’s not often we get a chance to dress up and go out for a really nice dinner but it was Blai’s birthday two weekends ago and I was determined to take him somewhere nice. I’d heard about the opening of Wild Honey from postings on eGullet and managed to make a booking last Thursday evening, the only day the both of us could make. The restaurant is located in Mayfair, off Bond Street, but the prices on the menu don’t entirely reflect that.

Blai started with the Cornish Pollock with gnocchetti, tomato and anchovy (£8.95) which looked rather nice in a scattered salad kind of way. The gnocchetti were, as expected, little potato gnocchi and very nice they were too. He later admitted that he felt it was missing a little something and that it was “healthier” than he would have liked! I chose the Braised pigs head, potato puree, caramelised onions (£6.95) as my starter. What came out was a dark terrine of lots of bits of the pigs head – quite a bit of tender cheek, a few lengths of crunchy ear, and lots of fatty braised skin. The onions were served in such a cute way; two microscopically thin slices of a swirled pork charcuterie were used to sandwich a small pile of the onions. The slice on top spiralled around cutely over the onion lump. A definitely winner and I believe they serve this dish over at Arbutus too.

For mains, Blai chose the Shin of Limousin veal, gratin of cavolo nero, lemon and parsley (£15.95) while I had the Traditional bouillabaisse – Marseille style (£18.95). The waiter came Blai’s dish on a large dish and an empty soup bowl for me. He wished us bon appetit and walked away. Hmpf! He (laughing) and two other waiters came back with one copper pan filled with fish and vegetables placed to my right, another copper pan with the cooking liquor to my left, a small plate of croutons, two tiny cups filled with aioli and rouille, and a little cocotte with Blai’s gratin. Bread plates were cleared to make room for all these dishes. Blai’s veal was so tender and very good but the winner was the gratin. I never would have thought to pair cavolo nero with bechamel but it really worked and I’m thinking about how to make it at home. My bouillabaise was quite nice, the tender white fishes (there were 3 varieties in my dish) paired with a salty, tasty liquor. Actually, the cooking liquor was much too salty to drink by itself but it was good paired with the lighter-flavoured fish. There were also some braised vegetables – leeks, a potato and a bit of fennel. I don’t know if I’d order it again though.

Dessert time! I was greedy and wanted us to split at least 3 desserts but Blai soon put a halt to that idea. We would only order another dessert if we could fit it in after the first two. He chose the Roasted peach, mascarpone and basil ice cream (under £6), I think mostly out of curiosity about the ice cream. It was fantastic! The roasted peach is as you’d expect a roasted peach to turn out but the ice cream was really something. The basil went really well with the creamy mascarpone and the warm peach…delicious. I wanted to try their Chocolate tart, natural yoghurt ice cream (under £6) as I had heard good things about their tarts in general. The tart slice looked very chocolatey and its warm innards were spilling out onto the plate. It was very good with the frozen yoghurt but it wasn’t anything special – just a well made chocolate tart. The main quibble I had with the tart was the hardness of the pastry; its flavour was good but getting my spoon or fork through the tart base was quite difficult. Pressing downwards with my spoon with all my might resulted in the tart base eventually giving way and my spoon banging hard on the plate. Whoops. Many people were ordering the Vanilla waffles, crushed warm strawberries, Chantilly cream and it looked very good and perhaps I would have ordered it had I not had a bit of strawberry overload over the past few weeks. Oh yeah, and I couldn’t fit in another dessert. Sigh

We asked for the bill and while the waiter acknowledged my request, nothing came for over 20 minutes. This might have had something to do with the fact that a certain Giles Coren was sitting at the table behind Blai; there were definitely a lot of people hovering over him and his party! A second waiter was asked and this time the bill arrived. As the title indicates, it was a soft opening for the restaurant, the first day being July 2; this might explain this service blunder and hopefully they’ll fix this. Our food was half price during this time as they were in effect “testing out” the restaurant. I will definitely be returning though, as well as to its sister restaurant, Arbutus. Both restaurants do a fabulous 3 course prix fixe at £15.50 for lunch and £17.50 pre-theatre.

Wild Honey
12 St George Street
London W1S 2FB

Wild Honey on Urbanspoon