Bonhams is located in the main offices of the auction house on Bond Street, though it has its own dedicated entrance accessed via Haunch of Venison Yard. There is a bar downstairs with a small upstairs dining room. Head chef Tom Kemble worked at Hedone and Faviken and uses much higher quality ingredients than are usually seen in London. It was gained a Michelin star within six months of opening. As I have written previously, the wine list is the most kindly priced in London, with bargains galore at the high end.
A pair of nibbles arrived at the start of this particular meal. Buckwheat crisp contained celeriac foam, anchovy and confit lemon and a garnish of dried black olive. A puree of foie gras with apple jelly was sandwiched between two thin sheets of feuilles de brick pasty that had basted with maple syrup. The latter in particular was lovely, the apple just sharp enough to cut through the richness of the liver (15/20). The sourdough bread here is reminiscent of that at Hedone and is getting steadily better over time – it is superb bread with great texture and excellent crust (17/20).
Celeriac carbonara (£12) was a clever take on the Roman classic pasta dish. Here the pasta’s place is taken by shredded celeriac, the egg and black truffle providing some richness and luxury respectively; this was a light and most enjoyable dish (16/20).
Squab pigeon and foie gras salad (£14) came with walnuts, bitter leaves and blood orange to provide much-needed balance to the richness of the meat. The salad dressing was nicely judged and the leaves were excellent (15/20). Line-caught sea bass (£28) was terrific, an exceptional piece of fish with superb flavour that was carefully cooked. It came with artichokes, monk’s beard (Tuscan green shoots reminiscent of samphire) and beurre blanc sauce. I am not a fan of samphire and its relatives but the quality of the bass spoke for itself (17/20). Gnocchi (£20) was pan-fried with cauliflower black truffle and radicchio tardivo leaves (arguably the best radicchio variety). The texture was lovely, the leaves providing natural bitterness, the truffle scent lifting the dish (16/20).
Caramelised Victoria pineapple (£9) came with exotic fruit salad, coconut sorbet and a tuile; a refreshing way to end the meal (16/20). Rhubarb (£9) from Yorkshire was poached in ginger and served with crème diplomat, lychee and pistachio with rose meringue. The rhubarb itself was excellent, the ginger with it a classic flavour combination, the lychee adding further acidity (16/20).
Coffee was from Caravan, one of London's better suppliers, and service was as friendly as ever. The bill came to £133 a head, but that was with some lovely wine. Bonhams was the best opening of 2015 in the capital by some margin, and its wine list is something akin to a miracle in pricing terms, especially in Mayfair. It was originally open only on weekday lunches, but at the time of writing is now also doing dinner on Wednesdays and Thursdays.