Test Drives

diningroomThe main dining room at Wild Honey St James (official picture).

So what do we need to know about Wild Honey St James?

Well, as the name suggests, this is from the man who brought us the much-loved Wild Honey - Anthony Demetre. When news broke that it was closing down, legions of fans took to social media to bemoan its passing. But the good news is that as one door shuts, another, down in St James, opens. The team has moved their show a short distance away here to SW1.

Where exactly is it?

You'll find it on the corner of Waterloo Place and Pall Mall - it's taken over the restaurant space at the Hotel Sofitel London St James (where The Balcon used to be). But the space has been completely gutted and remodelled so it's almost unrecognisable from its previous incarnation. The entrance can be found on Pall Mall.

Where's good to meet for drinks first?

You've got a choice of two options in the same building. The restaurant itself has a large bar space, serving up English wine on tap, their own vermouths and charcuterie.

Alternatively, head for the hotel's St James Bar which is also run by Demetre and his team alongside bar manager Enzo Sigaut. In this bar, there are two distinct cocktail menus to choose from - one of which takes its inspiration from music (with the menu looking like a CD sleeve) and the other focuses more on modern twists on classics.

We picked a drink from both. L'Empereur (£17). was an elegant concoction featuring Fair vodka, Napoleon mandarin liqueur and an olive oil tincture - and see below for our choice from the music section. If you were just popping in for a drink and snacks, Demetre's bar food menu here sounds well worth a try. We particularly liked the sound of the bar snacks and drinks pairing, as well as the crab croquettes.

roomLosing My Wings (£16) paired Woodford Reserve with homemade dried fruit honey and a cinnamon and citrus peel-infused Madagascar vanilla liqueur.

Where should we sit?

The dining room is a lovely space - the corner site means it's flooded with light (making it a particularly good lunch destination). It's split into two and we preferred the larger of the two sections. If you're a government policy wonk wanting to have a private discussion over food, the tables are spread far enough apart for you to be able to do that easily here. Alternatively, if you fancy the look of the bar section, you can ask for the restaurant menu there too.

And the food?

The restaurant is described as Modern European. Demetre (alongside Head Chef Simon Woodrow - ex Wild Honey Mayfair and The Dairy) has continued with his French-based cooking inspired by British seasonal produce. If you're after some of your favourite dishes from the old Wild Honey you'll find them here alongside new instant classics.

Here's what we had (note that all the starters/small plates were split for us, so the servings you see here are smaller than you'd get if you ordered one yourself):

roomCharentais melon with Italian lardo, rosemary and lemon salt (£7). London's really enjoying some amazing lardo dishes at the moment, and this was a textbook example of how serving at room temperature can be a huge boost to flavour and texture.

roomHand-cut macaroni 'Cacio e Pepe' with crisp boneless chicken wings (£12 as a starter). If you haven't already seen these on your Insta feed, then who exactly are you following? They're very good.

roomRabbit - roasted saddle and shoulder cottage pie with girolles and grilled sand carrots (£29) - a beautiful cooked saddle and anything which comes with a cottage pie on the side has our vote.

roomDaphne's Welsh lamb with fresh sheep's ricotta, crisp sweetbreads threaded onto fried spaghetti and summer vegetables (£29).

What about vegetarians?

There's a separate vegetarian menu with delights such as Burrata with trumpet courgettes, nasturtium, dukkah (£14)  but even on the main menu there's plenty to choose from including this particularly good starter and of course you can opt for the cacio e pepe macaroni without the chicken wings.

roomHeritage tomatoes with nectarines, goat's curd and wood sorrel (£8). There's no better late summer dish than tomatoes bursting with flavour.

What about dessert? And - more importantly - are they still doing chocolate soup?

They are - the warm chocolate soup with rice ice-cream that so many of us loved from the original is sill on the menu (£9) But you're also going to want to try the following:

roomClassic English custard tart with golden sultanas, pine nuts and salted butter (£9) - a classic from the original Wild Honey menu and still one of London's best custard tarts. Demetre shares the recipe for it here if you're interested. 

roomWild honey ice-cream (£12) Obviously they had to have a dessert with honey and this comes with a nice bit of tableside theatre as honey from Burford in the Cotswolds is scraped direct from the honeycomb on to your dish.

roomAnd here's the chocolate soup. a slightly different presentation to the last time we had it, but yes, it is as great as ever. 

And the wine?

Assistant Restaurant Manager Rémy Baben looked after us - suggesting a range of paired wines with the dishes that took us a little out of our comfort zone, in a good way. A 125ml glass of house white - a Viognier from Marsanne is just £6 which is a veritable bargain for St James. There's also an English WestWell Estate sparkling wine on tap for £5.50. Bottles are mainly in the £40-£50 bracket, although there are a few to choose from sub £30 too. And you can go up to £230 for a bottle of 2005 Châteauneuf-du-pape from Château de Beaucastel.

Overall thoughts?

We're not quite sure what the denizens of Pall Mall have done to deserve this restaurant on their doorstep - maybe they were particularly good in a previous life. Whatever, this is a blindingly good transfer of a much-loved restaurant to a new location, losing none of the talent but gaining quite a lot in terms of sexy dining room ambience. A must-visit.

 

More about Wild Honey St James

Where is it? 8 Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5NG

Find out more: Visit their website or follow them on Twitter @WildHoneySJ.

Book Wild Honey

 

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