When the news broke of Wild Honey St James spreading its pollen to a new, coveted London location, foodies were practically banging their well-travelled knives and forks on tables. And, in May of this year, as Chef Anthony Demetre opened the doors to the restaurant at a new site at Sofitel London St James, those with their ears to the ground on the culinary front were prowling the web for croutons of feedback.
Wild Honey St James, which does indeed centre around honey, sees an evolution of the food and style of its predecessor, with Head Chef Simon Woodrow collaborating with Anthony. Housed inside the dominant and grand building standing on 8 Pall Mall, is a smorgasbord of alternative dishes, with French-based contemporary, seasonal cooking methods still at the helm, partnered with a nod to the British Isles, where Wild Honey first gained notoriety.
The restaurant, upon entry, saw a cacophony of businessmen types discussing their days over heady red wines, whilst at the tables diners perused menus that flaunted dishes such as warm smoked eel and rillettes, traditional bouillabaisse, tarte tropezienne, fried egg and raw cream and of course, London wild honey ice cream. It was clear to see that, twelve years on, Wild Honey despite a change of location was still sensationally popular.
Beginning the night amongst decadence at St James’ Bar, shrouded behind velvet curtains, and like a plush treasure trove of shiny decanters and blue banquettes, we whet the palettes with Negronis, expertly made with warming Four Pillar gin. The bar, well-endowed on the spirit front, was frankly charming, and they’ve certainly hit the nail on the head with ambience. The restaurant itself is also no stranger to glam, with the same blue banquettes snaking around the room, and chandeliers and interesting artworks help bring the space to life. Staff are quick to hang up coats and sashay your way to take drink orders and for that, points were immediately given.
Having just delighted in an afternoon tea at Brown’s that brought with it all the jam, cream and Genoese sponge one would expect, it was time to delve into a five-course menu that would either make or break us. You’ll be happy to know it did the former not the latter.
Celebrating the traditional wine harvest period that falls, to most oenophiles delights, in September and October, Sofitel London St James has introduced a darling menu that delves into the punchy past of wine. The Sofitel Wine Days is running only until the 31st of October, in all Sofitel hotels, and the enological journey veers rather off-piste with its flavours, allowing guests to experience Sofitel’s “savoir-faire” in style. The finest of wines hold hands with each of the five courses, spanning the spectrum of sparkling, reds and whites to leave you wrapped in warmth, and a little bit tiddly, as you head out onto the cooler October streets.
Proceedings began with a refreshing burrata dish that was immediately a high-scorer. Appearing on the plate like a burrata but deconstructed, the milky cheese was delighted by the sweet flavour of the trumpet courgettes, as if pickled, and dukkah spice really added another layer to the flavour. This dish partnered with a refreshing Yves Cuilleron from Viognier, France. Known for its discreet licks of oak and handpicked fruit flavours, this wine got us off to a good start.
To follow, two hearty dishes. First, the roast fillet of cod which came with a fricassee of smoked haddock and corn and was simply delicious, and not overwhelming in size. The cod fell off the fork into the mouth, flakes effortlessly gliding off and wowing when eaten with the corn. The presentation of this, and the other dishes, had a Michelin tone.
The fillet of cod went with a Sybille Kuntz, German Riesling. German Riesling wine has always been a favourite of mine, and the Sybille Kuntz far from disappointed. This wine is a perfect match with white fish; it’s ripe, it’s dense and its bright apple character makes it quite unforgettable.
The next dish, Daphne’s Welsh lamb, I struggled with. This was no reflection on the dish, but rather because I tend to steer clear of lamb solely because it’s far from being my favourite meat. My partner however wolfed it down, commenting on the delightful roast salsify, fresh sheeps ricotta and Italian greens as he went. Another prime example of Wild Honey St James’ innovative ingredients. What was more to my palette was the Domaine Giachino from France. This light and perfumed red didn’t engulf the flavours of the lamb but rather complemented it with a refreshing-ness, leaving ample room for dessert…
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Dish number four was a showstopper. Synonymous to Wild Honey At James is, unsurprisingly, honey, and the restaurant truly excites with table theatrics that sees a honeycomb frame position itself on the table that is sliced by waiting staff and a waxy spoonful of the sweet stuff is dolloped onto your ice cream. It doesn’t get more fresh and authentic than this.
Finally, as you begin to recline into your velvet banquette after an onslaught of courses, it’s onto course five, a choux craquelin bun bulging and oozing with damson compote. Perhaps a little stodgy after the previous dishes, but a gorgeous Lamiable, Grand Cru, Brut Rose helps with any inabilities to consume. This sparkling sensation, had such a depth of flavour, including sweet citrus, white peach, smoke and mineral nuances and was perhaps my favourite, and left me wondering if Wild Honey did save the best until last.
The food at Wild Honey St James was spectacular, heightened by a cosy and atmospheric restaurant space that makes you never want to leave. Go and try this menu whilst you can!
Wild Honey St James can be found at 8 Pall Mall, St. James’s, London SW1Y 5NG, www.wildhoneystjames.co.uk