Saturday, 17 November 2007

Wild Honey

Cowie, her sister Vicoria and I visited Wild Honey this week with Mary, Cowie's Granny for a special meal. We'd heard great things in reviews in the Metro and Sunday supplements. Top class seasonal food in a charming setting seemed to be the prevailing opinion. It's the sequel to Arbutus which we've not been to but is supposed to be brilliant.

I arrived via Maddox Street where I spent a moment or two having a look at Hibiscus's menu and slick interior. Very Mayfair... although a little stark. Menu looked great too.

Things didn't start well when we arrived at Wild Honey. The girl on the front desk dramatically opened the door into Cowie's face! Some entrance... luckily this was just an amusing aberation. Everything from then on was perfect.

We negotiated a move away from a quiet backwater of the restaurant into a booth next to the cheese board... right into the heart of the action. The menu was well thought out with ample choice of fish, meat or veggie stuff...

My eye was immediately caught by the braised pig's head for starter and saddle of venison for main whilst the girls opted for a combination of red mullet, wild duck, halibut and snails... but just not mixed together!

Before our starters arrived we decided on a couple of carafe's of white and red wine... both from Chile which were excellent. I can heartily recommend numbers 11 and 52! I just can't quite remember what they were called! A robust but soft Chilean Malbec for my pigs head and venison and a Chilean Viognier for the girls' snails, and fish.

My pig's head was exceptional. I have never eaten anything that tasted more "piggy". It was a combination of slow cooked chunks of head meat, cheeks, jowls etc. pressed into a terrine and then sliced and served warm. Stunning. It came with a sweet and soft onion compote and a slick of potato puree. I can't wait to make it myself... maybe for Christmas!

Feeling quite proud of myself for my bold choice of starter I was offered nibbles at Cowie's red mullet and Victoria's cold English snail. Bot were really tasty but it was quite hard for me to judge after such a gutsy and powerful starter myself. Victoria was a bit disappointed by the size of her portion, which was only to be confounded further by the slender portion of halibut she received for her main course.

Because Cowie and Mary both opted for wild duck I decided to switch to venison which arrived in a the shape of a fat sausage covered in a juniper crust with what I thought were uber tasty potatoes but turned out to be roasted beets. As a combination it worked brilliantly. The meat was tender, moist and tasty and was enhanced by the well chosen selection of vegetables. My only wish would be for a touch more sauce. With the Malbec it was a delicious deep red autumnal marriage.

The girls' duck was lean and tasty with a hint of pinkness. Satisfied mmms and arghs are the main memory I've got of their dish. And also a big debate about what the vegetable that looked like an asparagus was that tasted more like a root vegetable. At the time we thought it was salsify and have since checked on google and it seems we were right!

Victoria's halibut had been gently poached and was served with a mushroom and parsley risotto and greens. All very tasty and very delicate in comparison to the duck and venison. The flesh flaked away perfectly but we couldn't help thinking the whole thing was a bit grey.

Granny had spotted that creme brulee was on the menu for dessert so had held back on the starters. As the waitress arrived to take away our plates from the main course the order for creme brulee was eagerly given. Cowie and I opted to share a bowl of wild honey ice cream and crushed honey comb, whislt Victoria opted for a slice of treacle tart... feeling a bit greedy we also asked for some cheese... afterall we were sat right next to them!

All of the cheese comes from the aladin's cave of the cheese world... La Fromagerie which is just down the road from my office. When we pop off to Waitrose for lunch we often stop off to pick up some obscure and perfectly ripe cheese before nipping into the Ginger Pig for a pork pie or mamouth Scotch egg! I've got a serious soft spot for their cheese... hence the title of this blog!

We had a selection of goat, cow and blue cheeses with some quince and wild honey on the side whilst we waited for our pudding. All were delicious and acted as a perfect segue to our gorgeously sweet desserts.

Our ice cream was first class as were the treacle tart and the enormous creme brule. We loved the way that each one of the sugar rich desserts wasn't overpoweringly sweet. Maybe they use honey instead of sugar...

We had a very memorable evening and are dying to return when we can afford to. It's a great place to spend an evening with friends and family and I can imagine a good place for a business lunch too.

If you want to see what it looks like have a look at Purple Cloud's brilliant photos on Flickr.

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