What should we know about Bonhams?
It's the in-house restaurant at the high end auctioneers on Bond Street. As part of an extensive redevelopment of their London HQ which is now ultra modernist with clean lines and white walls, they've carved out a space towards the back of the building over two floors and brought in chef Tom Kemble (ex Hedone and Faviken) to run it.
Where should I meet friends for a drink first?
Well, given that it's currently only open for breakfast and lunch, this probably isn't going to be an issue. But if you've had a particularly good valuation of the etching Great Aunt Ida left you and are thinking of making an afternoon of it, you could head round the corner afterwards to Bellamy's or the Guinea Grill.
Where is it exactly?
You'll probably need the services of the doorman to guide you as you head downstairs and along a corridor. You enter the restaurant at its lower ground floor wine bar which has a counter and a few tables.
Where should I sit?
The upstairs dining room is pretty tiny, but the buzz over lunch was good. Our table at the front by the stairs was good if you're after some privacy.
And what about the food?
As you'd expect from the chef's provenance, the food here is seasonal and prepared with a certain pared-back elegance. And, because this restaurant is where it is, the ingredients are top notch. The brief menu featured three choices of starters and four mains and desserts. We kicked off with gutsy dish of panisse with artichokes, tapenade, watercress and walnut and a more rustic (and tastier) terrine that were expecting of pork and foie gras terrine served simply with pickled cherry and frisee (both £10).
A main dish of pumpkin gnocchi was solid but not overexciting (£16) which meant that order envy was reserved for the person who chose the slow-cooked Cumbrian lamb neck (£22) which combined beautifully sourced meat with all manner of on-trend ingredients such as miso glazed aubergine, quinoa and preserved lemon without losing direction.
Desserts were equally good. A perfectly wobbly panna cotta was topped with the deconstructed elements of a rhubarb crumble (£8) but this, in turn, was soundly beaten by the simply-named Mandarin Variation (£7) which was quite the prettiest dish, featuring mandarin in jelly, custard, meringue and dust form, served up with a yogurt sorbet.
The wine here is of note, yes?
The wine list here is very special, having been put together by the Head of Bonhams Wine Department, Richard Harvey. They have not one but two Enomatic machines making this a great place to try really interesting wines by the glass. Having started lunch with a glass of Hambledon Classic Cuvee (£9) we worked our way through the list, with particular highlights being an Oremus Mandolas dry furmint £10) and, to finish, a 2008 Sauternes from Château Guiraud. Sommelier Charlotte Edgecombe, who also helped put the list together, couldn't have been more fun to choose wines with.
When much of London is going down a less formal route, lunching at Bonhams with its crisp white tablecloths and beautiful art turned out to be a welcome break from the norm. But this isn't merely a stuffy place for the patriarchy to do deals. Cunningly, Bonhams have brought a young, enthusiastic team with plenty of interesting experience to ensure their restaurant is also an interesting place too. We'd like to go back for breakfast but that would mean missing out on that great wine list, which would be a sin.
Bonhams is at 101 New Bond Street, London W1S 1SR. Telephone 020 7468 5868
Hot Dinners ate as guests of Bonhams. Prices were correct at the time of writing.