Editor's note: in November 2018 it was announced that Bonham's will be closing on 21st December. It will be missed.
Since my last visit to Bonhams there has been a change in the kitchen, with Theo Clench now in charge. Mr Clench was part of the opening team here in 2015 and then spent a year cooking in Australia before retruning to Bonhams. For background on the restaurant and discussion of the terrific wine list see my earlier reviews.
There was a tasting menu at £70, and three courses were £50. I have written before about the wine list here, which is a major part of the attraction due to its kindly pricing, which is exceptional for London. Some of the better wines are actually below their retail price e.g. a Vega Sicilai Unico reserve Especial at £325 compared to its shop price of £360. We drank the lovely Vega Sicilia Valbuena 5 vintage 1994 at £145 compared to its retail price of £140. A steal.
Comte gougeres were particularly nice, with good texture and deep cheese flavour, topped with a pickled walnut. These were accompanied by a less interesting tartlet of trout roe and creme cru (15/20 average but the gougeres were better than this). Calf sweetbreads were carefully cooked, served with artichoke, clementines and radiccio leaves. The accompaniments were nicely chosen as a foil to the rich sweetbreads, the clementine bringing balancing acidity and the leaves a little bitterness (16/20).
Woodock was served on the bone, feet and all, and had good gamey flavour, along with some loganberries (15/20). Venison in this case, a loin of fallow deer came with salt-baked celeriac, the meat seved pink and the earthy celeriac balancing it well. Quince and bilberries again brought some acidity (15/20). For dessert, lemon tart was good, though the pastry could have been a touch more delicate, and the filling just a bit more acidic to my taste. This came with pleasant coconut sorbet and burnt lime meringue (14/20).
Coffee was from Caravan and was very good. Service was friendly, and we were served by a very nice French waitress who has moved from The Harwood Arms. I was being treated today by a friend so I didn’t see the bill, but if you ordered a modest bottle of wine then a typical cost per head might be around £80. It was good to see that Bonhams has made the kitchen transition quite smoothly, and remains a little gem of value in central London.