pittenweem was off at the annual medieval congress in Kalamazoo, having dinner with my friends, so I spent Wednesday evening having dinner with hers. Fair trade. siusaidh was en route back from Botswana. Judah was over from Paris for the night. I dragged them around London for pastries (Cocomaya), chocolates (Paul A. Young), and dinner at Wild Honey.
Wild Honey is sister restaurant to Arbutus. It has the same high-end economical philosophy, good food, competitively priced, with intelligent use of its ingredients. It's the plusher-feeling of the two, with comfortable, spacious booths and oak-paneled walls. We made our reservation an hour before we showed up. They only had space for us at the bar then, but shortly after we settled in with blood orange and prosecco cocktails, a booth opened up - much better for comfort and conversation all around.
I started with a memorably wonderful sweet onion tart - richly caramelized sweetness on a light, flaky, thin pastry crust. It was really quite astonishingly good; it was garnished with meltingly soft trout, a tangle of microgreens, a melting herbed creme fraîche, and a smooth purée of intense parsley. C. enjoyed his asparagus with poached egg, unconventionally chopped up into saladlikeness.
The main, I ordered just for the smoked lettuce cream. I had to know what it was, and if it was any good. It was just what it said it was: a smooth cream tasting of lettuce and smoke, a lovely condiment to the light and buttery cod. The 'boneless chicken wings' were dull on their own, too small to hold heat and thus gone cold, and slightly less than tender. They worked better as long as I thought of them as just another condiment for the cod. J. and C. both went for the pork belly, sided with a nicely-balanced daube of smooth rhubarb jelly. C. and I divided over siusaidh's risotto. She hardly ate any of it, her appetite suddenly swamped by travel fatigue. (She had only flown in that morning.) For C., her risotto was the best he'd ever had. For me, it was slightly undercooked, with a tiny bit of remaining crunch to the rice.
We were too full to individually have dessert but managed a group effort on the signature wild honey ice cream with crushed, toasted honeycomb. We all expected it would be too sweet, too heavy. It was a revelation: it carried its honey confidently, not too sweet, with the toffee-like depths of the crumbly, crunch honeycomb. One portion was plenty for four no-longer-hungry people, however.
Service was friend, helpful, and accommodating. Bread - functional, decent - was plentiful. Tap water was readily forthcoming and regularly topped up.
C. was impressed enough with our meal that it may have moved to the top of his list of London restaurants. I enjoyed it, and will certainly be remembering that wonderful onion tart for a long time to come; but then again, the two of us don't agree on what makes a good risotto. The company was excellent, even if pittenweem couldn't join us.