Editor's note: in August 2018 head chef Tom Kemble completed his last service at Bonhams. The head chef is now Tom's former sous-chef, Théo Clench.
Bonhams, situated within the auction house of the same name, has two entrances. You can get to the restaurant via the main entrance of the auctioneer on Bond Street, or through a dedicated entrance in Haunch of Venison Yard. Chef Tom Kemble has an unusually strong emphasis on high grade ingredients, and the Bonhams wine list, which changes regularly, takes advantage of the auction house expertise. At the high end of the list prices are barely above retail, making this the best value wine list in London.
Nibbles were squid ink cracker with trout roe and lemon, and muckwheat tartlet with ham-infused crème crue, peas and Parmesan. These were very pleasant nibbles (15/20). As ever here, the sourdough bread is terrific, with an excellent crust (17/20). Amuse bouche was poached oyster and chilled cucumber soup, with horseradish Chantilly and fresh almonds. The oyster was good but I was particularly impressed by the intensity of the cucumber flavour (16/20). Dexter beef tartare certainly used high quality beef, supplied from O’Shea’s, a top London butcher. For me there could have been stronger seasoning, though to be fair that is somewhat a matter of personal taste (15/20).
Turbot fillet was from a large 5kg fish and had excellent flavour, served with a stuffed courgette flower and a crab and cuttlefish bisque. The fish size matters because the flavour of turbot is generally better the larger the fish, and the sub 2 kg specimens sell for less than half the wholesale price of the larger fish. The courgette flower was delicate and the bisque had plenty of seafood flavour – a class dish (easily 16/20). Apricot frangipane (a pastry cream made with almonds) tart was superb, the pastry delicate, the apricots seasonal and having great flavour, the almond flavour not too dominant (17/20).
Service was very good, as usual. The bill came to £135 each, though this was with copious quantities of excellent wine. The food part of my meal came to £54, which is far from unreasonable given the extremely high ingredient quality here. As noted in earlier reviews, the wine markups here are probably the most generous in London, so if there is ever a restaurant to push the boat out, it is here.