Anticipation in the foodie world has been at fever pitch. Could this Mayfair newcomer possibly equal the remarkable value which has been all but universally acclaimed at Arbutus, its Soho parent?
As we entered the paneled premises formerly known as the Drones Club, the Arbutus team – Anthony Demetre and Will Smith – were both in attendance, But that’s as far as similarity of physical appearance went: whereas their Soho premises are tightly-packed and clattery, Wild Honey is serene and well-spaced.
Just like in Soho, though, service is thoughtful and efficient. And the food ‘offer’ is also pretty much identical. Arbutus is famously a value proposition, and a £15.50 3-course set lunch menu is also on offer here in Mayfair. It was in fact the better of our two meals – with a chunky bavette (steak) as its highlight, it was undoubtedly a very good deal. An Ã la carte selection was variable. It started off well enough, with a delicious mackerel tartare. Bizarre as it may seem, though, our main-course risotto was not as good as one eaten at a Strada the next day. And a peach pudding lacked any real distinction of taste or texture.
The wines, however – an intelligent selection, all available by the 250ml carafe, as well as by the bottle – add to the feeling that you can have a proper meal here, and perhaps even be a bit adventurous, without straining your wallet. And it’s not just on the booze front that sourcing is carefully considered. Cheeses, from La Fromagerie, included the first new model to come out of Suffolk in 40 year (Hawkston), and it’s not even on general UK release yet.