Sunday, 17 August 2008

13.08.08: Out to Wild Honey

For His birthday, we had a lovely day of wandering the alternately sunny and blustery West End, then headed to Wild Honey, which is hands-down Our fave special occasion restaurant in London.
Above, She started with fresh Dorset crab prepared both alone and in a rich paté, with a salad of young peas and shoots. Those papery slices that I thought must be courgette were the thinnest Bramley apple sheets ever, and the little avo-coloured mound was yet another preparation of peas, puréed I believe with mint.

He plumped for the smoked eel, turnips and roast apricot purée.

She was eyeing up the main course He coveted, so She graciously defaulted to the roast Elwy Valley lamb, young market vegetables, fennel and garlic. Fun fact: that little potato-looking pillow is the fennel, hosting a tiny pool of mint sauce.

Meanwhile, he chose the saddle of rabbit, lacquered shoulder 'pie', wild mushrooms and figs, oh my.
For a grand finish, We shared the warm black cherry clafoutis with custard and a couple of cheeses selected by our server (we trusted her, she was terribly capable and Dutch-looking), which arrived with a supremely noteworthy pool of - you guessed it - wild honey.

SHE SAYS: All the pea preparations on my salad plate were breathtakingly fresh and redolent of newly turned earth spiked with lemon - esp the shoots. The crab was perfectly moist and subtle, and even more of a treat when offset by an apple sliver.

Now, I admit I was not excited when ordering my main course, but I needn't have hesitated. It was the best lamb I've ever had for its perfect preparation and light juices.The puréed fennel was fun and intensely aniseed in taste - I'm guessing it was creamed raw. I took my time over every bite of veg and chop, enjoying the cosy ambiance of the room and peeking at the dishes on the tables near us.

Dessert was not stunning, though good - I thought our clafoutis quite dry even with a puddle of custard to help rehydrate. Could be I was just too disappointed they weren't serving the wild honey ice cream, which I had last year. However, the slick of honey that arrived with our veiny blue and nose-tingling harder cheeses set my world to rights: it was delightfully deep, dark and almost bitter. Had I been at home I would have licked the plate.

HE SAYS: I really like me some smoked eel, whenever we are in Amsterdam I eat plenty from the little street stalls located all over the city. This variety, although larger then Dutch eels, still had that familiar rich smokey intensity and not too slimy texture I was after. The
roast apricot purée worked very well to offset the eel with fresh fruitiness - a pairing which seemed odd but worked very well, especially with the turnips, which helped round off the plate with their ever so slightly sweet and mustardy counternotes.

The rabbit was surprisingly small in quantity but rich and satisfying in flavour. Again the sweetness of the fruit, this time figs, really helped to add balance to the salty, gamey qualities of the meat and the wild mushrooms.

I think I enjoyed the pudding a little more then She did, but then again I did pour over more then my fair share of the lovely, velvety custard over the tarty and vanilla-infused flan-like pie. Well, it was my birthday after all.

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