I absolutely love the power of social media.
Haters may hate, but there’s no detracting from all the joy that it brings – best of all, by spreading word about the latest and greatest eats in town.
Case-in-point: my recent dinner at Honey & Smoke.
spotted drooled over some rather tantalising snapshots on Felicity Spector‘s goal-worthy feed recently, a couple of food-loving friends and I decided to schedule our overdue catch-up at the new spin off to the much-touted Honey & Co…
Unassumingly tucked away at the far end of Great Portland Street, there’s a cheerful – almost cafeteria-esque – vibe about this new restaurant.
To be honest, I wasn’t completely taken in by the minimalist decor though. It’s not that I don’t appreciate simplicity, but somehow plastic chairs (which wouldn’t be out of place in a school auditorium) are not usually where I’d expect to be seated at supper time.
Still it was a minor detail, all-too-quickly overlooked once we’d had that first provocative whiff of the menu, rooted in Middle-Eastern cuisine with a focus on grills.
Between us, we went for all the mezze, small sharing plates that paired well with our rather exotic selection of cocktails. Think bellinis with lychee and pomegranate; whisky with orange marmalade; and sparkling spiced plum vodka!
Each dish was a chaotic canvas of colours, flavours and textures, enriched with liberal lashings of tahini…
A silky-smooth baba ganoush was set apart by a hint of burnt aubergine, while the seeded thyme-suffused lavoush (a crisp flat bread) served alongside was ridiculously moreish on its own too.
Burnt celeriac rendered the humble vegetable surprisingly craveable, helped in no small part by a surrounding pool of sweet and smoky urfa chilli butter, sour cream and chives. While charred red pears stole the show with their ensemble cast, which included a razor-sharp almond tahini and raw honey.
Warm and crisp on the outside yet deliciously soft and fluffy within, a side of well-rounded falafels were as perfect as you could expect to find anywhere.
The veggie of the year, cauliflower florets, also made an appearance. What made this assembly different though was the addition of a sweet and savoury homemade amba (mango-based chutney)…
Given some of the outstanding texture combinations on offer, a few of our other dishes admittedly paled a bit in comparison – the roasted tomato tabule with pomegranates and chili for instance, which was a bit too grainy and lacking a fiery spark. Similarly, the msabha (chickpeas cooked overnight and spiked with Turkish pepper-garlic and tahini) came across a tad too stodgy.
You can’t expect to win them all, but our main course, ember-roasted sweet potato, came pretty close to being perfect. Warm and comfortingly-soft orange flesh coated with a medley of complimentary ingredients including tahini, roasted nuts and spring onions.
If you’re even the slightest bit keen on sweet potato, then this autumnal dish is not to be missed here…
… And neither is dessert, which includes Honey & Co’s famous feta and honey cheesecake served on a kadaif base.
Sadly we were too full to have done it justice, so plumped for an intensely rich and nutty Turkish coffee ice cream. Festooned with pillowy marshmallows, toasted hazelnuts and all the chocolate sauce, this is definitely my new favourite form of sundaes!
Service was on-point too, with the passion and enthusiasm of the friendly staff going a long way in adding to our evening.
And so we slipped away into the night with our bellies satisfyingly full, dreaming of more Arabian nights like these.
Honey & Smoke, 216 Great Portland St, London W1W 5QW