Wild Tavern

2 Elystan Street, London, SW3 3NS, United Kingdom

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Wild Tavern has as its executive chef Sardinian Achille Pinna, with head chef Marco Peri.  The ground floor dining room had tightly packed tables with some booths, but seats were rammed close together and were none too comfortable. The menu was quite extensive, vaguely Italian but with plenty of steaks and assorted raw seafood dishes. There was also a blackboard of specials of the day. At this busy service the noise levels were high, and it was difficult to have a conversation with the person sitting opposite you at your table.

The wine list had 183 labels and ranged in price from £40 to £1,800, with a median price of £150 and an average markup to retail price of 2.8 times, which is very moderate by current London standards. Sample references were Domaine de La Roche Paradis ’Les Vessettes’ 2020 at £58 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £40, Antinori Chianti Classico 2018 at £75 compared to its retail price of £29, and Umani Ronchi Pelago  Montepulciano 2017 from Abruzzo at £98 for a wine that will set you back £35 in the high street. For those with the means there was Domaine Ponsot Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru 2014 at £650 compared to its retail price of £318, and Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 at £480 for a wine whose current market value is £245. Corkage was £40 a bottle.

Artichoke salad was rather disappointing, the artichokes coming with avocado, which was a rather odd combination. The tent-like covering of a couple of large, thin slices of Parmesan did not add much to the salad either (12/20). Tagliatelle with Bolognese had quite good pasta with reasonable texture, along with decent minced beef and a reasonable level of seasoning (13/20). I also tasted a bite of my fellow diner’s dishes of tuna tartare and red prawn tartare, both of which were simple but perfectly pleasant.

Asparagus risotto was rather disappointing, the rice a little too dense, the asparagus itself properly cooked, but rather lacking in seasoning (barely 12/20). Tagliolini with “fresh black truffle” (priced at £44) had some truffle but it did not appear to be true black truffle (tuber melanosporum).  A little diversion here into the world of truffles. The truffle served was likely to be a cheaper truffle, perhaps winter truffle (tuber brumale) or bianchetto truffle (tuber borchii) but most likely spring/summer truffle (tuber aestivum). The pasta itself was rather clumpy in texture and the truffles had little fragrance (12/20). I think it is sharp practice to serve a dish advertised as “black truffle” in black truffle season, at a price suggesting true black truffle, and then serve a cheaper, less fragrant, truffle. Proper tuber melanosporum black truffles cost around £900-1,200 a kilo, but tuber aestivum merely £100- £250. With the amount of truffle (5-10 grams) grated on the dish that we had, the food cost of the dish was likely to be less than £4, so that is quite a gross margin for a dish priced at £44. (editor's note, an update. The truffles were indeed tuber aestivum from Umbria. The price of these is currently higher than the historical norms at around £400 a kg, with the restaurant apparently paying £440 a kg, a quarter the current price of tuber melanosporum. The portion size is roughly 5g of truffle, so that works out at £2.20 of truffle plus the flour and eggs to make the pasta, so maybe £3 food costs, certainly under £4. Generally restaurants charge about four times the raw ingredient costs in order to break even or make a small profit. In this case the dish price of £44 was over ten times the food cost).

A Napoleon cake, which was essentially a take on millefeuille, was dry and disappointing (10/20). Better was Sardinian cannoli, fried pastry with lemon-scented sheep cheese and sugar. The texture was fine, the Ricotta cheese flavour coming through well enough (13/20). Service was stretched on this busy night, but our waiter did a good job of topping up wine and keeping the service flowing. We had to vacate our table to allow the next diners to come in, but that was fine as we had finished our meal. The restaurant was packed out and tables were being turned all around us. It is not obvious to me why Wild Tavern is so popular. Even with using corkage rather than ordering from the list, the bill still came to £141 per person including service. This is an awful lot of money for the distinctly ordinary quality of the food that appeared. I had been recommended giving this place another try by someone in the trade, but I actually found this meal more dispiriting than my previous one here.   

Trade reservation

Further reviews: 22nd Jan 2020

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User comments

  • Allen Bracchi

    I looked at the reviews on TripAdvisor , they are pretty much the same as yours. Do your remember Mr Chows in Knightsbridge? Served very expensive , very average British Chinese food but was populated by a trendy upmarket clientele (and I think survives to this day ), perhaps Wild Tavern has a similar business model, pack the place full of beautiful people, serve them second rate expensive food ( like the salt guy) and laugh all the way to the bank.

  • Riaz Ahmad

    Andy, calling out sharp restaurant practice, I love it!