When I went to Arbutus last year I was pretty impressed. Great food, unpretentious staff (in a pretty pretentious location) and prices that made it both classy and value for money.
Which is probably why Wild Honey had so much hype. After my disappointing visit to Great Queen Street I was prepared for an experience that didn't measure up to the rave reviews I had seen elsewhere.
Luckily I was wrong - sometimes the hype is right.
Set in a wide, deep room with dark pannelled walls, Wild Honey oozes old world class and charm. With comfortable banquettes and chairs it is a room to linger in.
The waitress took awhile to bring our menus over so it gave us some time to eye off our neighbours - and in the end we ordered the same mains as they did - one halibut and one very seasonal monkfish. The starters were very hard to decide between - they all sounded marvellous - iberico ham, warm eel salad with summer vegetables, paté with cherries, stuffed heritage tomatoes.
In the end the eel and the paté won us over and we were not disappointed. Never in my life have I had such a tasty piece of eel that didnt come with terriyaki sauce! Warm, rich and accompanied by simple, lemony, shaved fennel and carrot salad it was unexpectedly lovely. Luckily my friends paté serving was enormous so I was able to sample the rich, buttery goodness cut through by the sweet, sharp cherries. Gorgeous. The only let down (and this is quite a big one) was the bread - which tasted and looked like it had come in a bag from sainsburys - this is a small but important detail, particularly when you are using good quality demi sel butter that is put on the table BEFORE you get your menu so you're anticipating sourdoughy perfection.
The mains were really nice - my monkfish was if anything slightly undercooked and served with lovely beans. The halibut well cooked and accompanied by potatoes smashed in butter (not mashed, smashed) which was truly divine.
I plumed for greengages and nougat ice-cream for dessert, which was certainly big enough to share (plum wise) but one quenelle of that ice cream was a little too little when it tastes so good.
Despite the Mayfair location the staff were warm and efficient and in every other respect unremarkable.
In another respect it fell over a little - and that was in terms of price at £45/head for 2.5 courses and one carafe of wine I felt it was a tiny bit much and while I enjoyed the meal I felt on balance I'd head to back to Great Queen Street first.
12 George Street