SquareMeal Review of Wild Honey St James
Wild Honey and Arbutus were two of the landmark restaurants of the late noughties and their chef-patron Anthony Demetre one of the most consistently inventive British chefs of the past 20 years. The closure of both restaurants was a sad loss for London dining but the spirit of Wild Honey has been re-incarnated at the Sofitel St James.
There’s no escaping the hotel feel of what was formerly the Balcon restaurant, a large space split between a toffee leather and blue-grey velvet-furnished dining room and a bar for cocktails and charcuterie. Sofitel’s French ownership, meanwhile, lends a literal Gallic accent to proceedings, with staff who wish you a cheery ‘bonsoir!’. It also imbues a slightly surreal feel to a scene that couldn’t be any more English, with red London buses puttering past the creamy Regency architecture outside.
Demetre’s cooking, however, remains as distinctive as ever. Is there any other chef who can elevate pistou soup - basically vegetable broth - into something that tastes like a rite of spring? Excellent sourcing, meanwhile, includes a plate of salt-scattered and sun-kissed Sardinian tomatoes that taste purely, absolutely of tomato.
Elsewhere, a fat curl of octopus tentacle has its assertively maritime flavour amplified by smoked cod’s roe. Welsh lamb gets a perfect partner with sweetbreads (speared by edible skewers) while cacio e pepe macaroni with chicken wings delivers on the promised comfort of bronzed chook and creamy cheese. Desserts are as tempting as can be, thanks to the likes of warm chocolate soup with toasted rice ice cream, and roasted black Provencal figs served with mascarpone sorbet.
With Imperial Treasure next door, Milos over the road and rumours of a big-name American chef opening in the old Villandry site opposite, this once forgotten corner of St James’s is gradually evolving into a restaurant destination of impressive sophistication. Wild Honey might have lost the cosy charm of its Mayfair premises but its cooking still hits the sweet spot.
About Wild Honey St James
Wild Honey St James is one of the latest ventures by chef Antony Demetre. This cute corner site is an impressive setting that includes a striking dining room that has been designed by interior specialist Jim Hamilton.
The Wild Honey St James menu uses a combination of classic French techniques using the finest British seasonal produce.
Leading the team is Anthony Demetre - who works alongside Head Chef Simon Woodrow. Anthony began his career at Lucknam Park in Wiltshire, followed by The Castle in Taunton before heading the Mayfair, working at The Greenhouse followed by a move to The Four Seasons Mayfair. In 1999, Anthony was appointed Chef/Director of Putney Bridge restaurant and awarded a Michelin star. In 2006 he realised his passion of running his own restaurant and began with launching Soho eatery Arbutus. Head Chef Simon Woodrow has worked closely with Anthony to create the Wild Honey St James menu, keeping a clear focus on the French-based contemporary style using British seasonal produce that the restaurant is so well known for.
The restaurant is open daily serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Those looking for an enhanced dining experience can pick from the à la carte menu, or for a more casual affair, there is a cafe menu and an early supper menu.