Editor's note: in August 2020 it was announced that Emilia would not reopen (it closed in March due to the UK-wide Covid-19 lockdown).
Emilia is the replacement restaurant for the previous Michelin-starred Bonhams, following a change of ownership of the auction house. Emilia opened in April 2019 with head chef Stuart Andrew, who was head chef of Clipstone. The restaurant is owned by Will Lander and Daniel Morgenthau, who also run The Quality Chop House, Portland and Clipstone. The menu is Emilia explores the cuisine of the Emilia Romagna region of Italy, which has Bologna as its major city and is famous for balsamic vinegar and ingredients like Parma ham and Parmesan Reggiano.
The wine list had 120 references, ranging in price from £26 to £585, with a median price of £96.50 and an average mark-up of 2.83 times retail price. This is actually pretty low by London standards, though nothing like the bargain that the list was under the predecessor restaurant here. Example labels were Ca dei Frati Lugana Brolettino 2017 at £69 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £28, L’Héritage de Chasse-Spleen 2009 at £84 compared to its retail price of £23, and Yalumba Réserve Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz 2001 at £115 for a label that will set you back £74 in a shop. At the prestige end of the list, Cupano Brunello di Montalcino 2002 was £234 compared to its retail price of £77, and Domaine Coche-Dury Bourgogne Chardonnay 2009 was £540 for a wine that has a current market value of £234. Two thirds of the labels were French, with a further 18% from Italy, and a smattering from elsewhere. Curiously, there were two wines from England yet not a single one from Spain. Only 34% of the list was under £75, reflecting the Mayfair setting. There is a reason why it is the highest priced property on the Monopoly board. Corkage, however, was a quite fair £20 a bottle.
There was a canape of pumpkin cake with chestnuts and grated Mimoulette cheese. This was pleasant enough but to me seemed a little too sweet for a starter (13/20). Potato focaccia was made in the kitchen. The bread had reasonable texture but surely with focaccia you would rather have olives or tomatoes rather than potato? (13/20). Scallop came with a cauliflower sauce and green mandarin oranges. The scallop itself was good quality and the orange added useful acidity to balance the natural sweetness of the scallop. However, I struggled to detect the flavour of the cauliflower, an ingredient that I am very fond of (13/20). I preferred risotto with Fenland celery and hazelnuts with pear. The rice had good texture and the pear brought its natural acidity to balance the earthiness of the celery, the nuts bringing a contrasting texture (15/20).
Crisp pig trotter came on a base of Puy lentils, with salsa verde and young leeks, along with what I think were pickled cucumbers. This was an enjoyable, rustic dish, the texture of the lentils a good foil for the trotter (14/20). Papardelle had good texture, served with deeply flavoured venson ragu. This was suitably rich, the meat sauce going well with the pasta (14/20). Quail from Norfolk was enjoyable, stuffed with porcini mushrooms and black truffle from Emilia Romagna. The truffle had limited flavour but the bird was cooked accurately and working well with the mushrooms (14/20).
For dessert, meringue with jasmine cream, apple and sorrel was rather bland, the flavours of the fruit barely coming through (12/20). Better was red berry granita with some added blackberries along with fig jam, fig leaf ice cream, pistachios and pistachio tuile. This worked well, the berries having plenty of flavour and working nicely with the pistachio (15/20). Coffee was from Allpress, which is an excellent supplier. Service was extremely good; we were served by the charming Celia, who worked here previously and who is friendly and knowledgeable. The bill came to £101 with corkage, which compares to a typical price of around £100 if you ordered a modest bottle from the list. Overall Emila was a very pleasant and enjoyable experience, the cooking being capable and the service charming, and it was noticeable that the place was completely full on this weekday lunch.