Wild Tavern opened in December 2019, from the same owners as Goodman and Beast, as well as the Burger and Lobster chain. It takes the place of a Japanese restaurant called Kiru, but the cooking theme here now is Italian. The head chef is Marco Peri, who previously was senior sous chef at Colbert and head chef at a chain of bars called Darwin and Wallace. There is also a consulting arrangement with Sardinian chef Achilles Pinna, who runs the seafood restaurant Da Achille in Sant’Antioco. The restaurant is located on Chelsea Green, and both the excellent fishmonger Rex Goldsmith and fruit and vegetable supplier Andreas Georgiou, both just yards away, are suppliers. The restaurant itself seats just under 80 customers at any one time. With its hard wood floor and bare wood ceiling, it is quite noisy. As well as a conventional Italian menu there was a raw bar and steaks and fish cooked on a Josper grill.
The wine list had 146 full bottles and ranged in price from £35 to £2,300, with a median price of £94 and an average markup to retail of 2.6 times, which these days in London is very fair indeed. Corkage was £35. There were plenty of choices from both France and Italy, as you might expect, but also some options from further afield such as Greece and South America. Unusually, there were almost as many cavas on offer as champagnes. Sample references were Adegas Galegas Andaina Godello Monterrai 2018 at £35 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £8, La Spinetta Vermentino 2018 at £55 compared to its retail price of £17, and the excellent Bodega Heredia Tondonia Tinto Reserva 2006 at £90 for a wine that will set you back £36 in the high street. For those with the means there was Dominus Estate Red 2012 at £310 compared to its retail price of £220, and Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2003 at £590 for a wine whose current market value is £581.
Artichoke salad was somewhat unusual, with a base of avocado and garnished with pine nuts and Parmesan. The elements themselves were fine, but it was a somewhat unusual composition. I am not convinced that avocado and Parmesan are a great combination (12/20). Scallops with celeriac and porcini were competently cooked but the shellfish were rather flabby in texture. The porcini were better, and the celeriac puree was fine, although the dish was a touch salty. This was a decent enough dish, but the scallops themselves were not at the same quality as the porcini (just about 13/20).
Tortello pasta is a style from Lombardy and Tuscany and in this case was filled with oxtail. The pasta itself had very good texture, was cooked accurately, and the filling was pleasingly rich (14/20). Tagliolini with white truffle also had good texture, the white truffles being from Romania rather than Alba but still commanding a chunky price of £43 on the menu. As a side note, at the time of writing this dish appears at £38 on their website menu, so they should fix this misalignment. The truffle had decent fragrance, but it is hard to match that of a recently dug up white truffle from Alba (14/20).
For dessert, Sardinian style cannoli had good texture and was pleasant enough (13/20). Sorbets were £5 a scoop, but at least both the passion fruit colada sorbet and clementine sorbet had smooth texture and good fruit flavour (13/20). Coffee was from a small Italian company called Cita Nova. This was decent enough though a touch on the bitter side. Service was pleasant, from the two elegant, statuesque meet and greet ladies through to our friendly Romanian waiter. The bill, even with corkage rather than ordering from the list, came to a hefty £113 a head for three courses. This was my main issue. Wild Tavern was a pleasant enough experience, but this kind of price point, with the artichoke salad for example priced at £17, was simply out of proportion to the level of food that appeared. If you had three courses including a main course and shared a modest bottle of wine, by the time you added coffee, water and service then a typical cost per person would be at least £110 and could easily be more. This is a lot of money for food at this level.