Wild Honey St James

8 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5NG, United Kingdom

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Wild Honey relocated in 2019 from Mayfair to St James. It is in the Sofitel but has its own separate entrance on Pall Mall, in the room that used to house Balcon, and before that Brasserie Roux. Anthony Demetre made his name in Putney, gaining a Michelin star for The Putney Bridge, and later switched to a slightly more casual dining style with Arbutus and Wild Honey. The new premises are very smartly decorated, and with a nod to Waterloo Place around the corner there is a painting of the Duke of Wellington above the bar. The menu had a full a la carte choice, and there was also a cheap lunch menu at £27.

The wine list had 120 bottles and ranged from £24 to £7,500 in price, with a median price of £59 and an average markup to retail price of just over 3.1 times, a level that is fairly normal for central London. Although 57% of the wines were French, there were also bottles from as far afield as Slovenia and the Czech Republic. The list had labels such as Lunaria Civitas 2017 at £44 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £13, No Control Fusion 2017 at £65 compared to its retail price of £30, and Egon Müller Scharzhof QBA Riesling 2018 at £96 for a wine that will set you back £37 in a shop. For those with the means, there were grander offerings such as Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste 2006 at £210 compared to its retail price of £73, and Tenuta San Guido Sassacaia 2010 at £495 for a wine whose current market value is £211. 

I started with a take on the classic Roman pasta dish Caccio e Pepe (literally “cheese and pepper”). This version used hand-cut macaroni, but with the addition of crisp boneless chicken wings. The pasta was excellent and I liked the distinct bite of the pepper, with plenty of pleasing spice to go with the pecorino cheese. The pepper used in this dish was interesting. There was a mix of kampot pepper from Cambodia and tellicherry pepper, which are from unusually large peppercorns from the Malabar coast of India. These are top of the range peppers – three Michelin star chef Olivier Roellinger, noted for his use of spices in his French cooking, was a big fan of kampot pepper, which costs about twenty times as much as regular black pepper. The top-end peppers really added an aromatic quality to the dish that you rarely encounter. The chicken on the side was fine, but for me the dish just didn’t need it. Caccio e Pepe is a classic dish that doesn’t need enhancement (15/20). 

My main course was line-caught English sea bass with green vegetables and fresh almonds. This was very good, the fish accurately cooked and the crunchy texture of the almonds working well with the fish (14/20). On the side was a fricassee of peas, baby gem and lettuce, which was pleasant (13/20).

Custard tart golden sultanas and pine nuts. This was a well-executed classic dish, the pastry delicate and the custard being very light, the sultanas on the side balancing the richness of the custard (15/20).  We also had a chance to sample wild honey ice cream, with a honeycomb brought to the table and a little cut off to garnish the ice cream. The honey itself comes from Burford in the Cotswolds. The coffee was from a company called Rombort, and was decent enough. With this came excellent canelés, large and with very good texture.

Service was charming. The bill came to £70 a head with one good glass of wine. If you shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical all-in cost per person might be around £75.  Wild Honey seems to be thriving in its new, smarter location. The food is very capable and the overall package appealing, with the smart setting and smooth service adding up to an enjoyable experience.

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