Bonhams Restaurant: Going once, twice, SOLD on Tom Kemble’s impeccable cooking

Sometimes, the best restaurants are hidden in the most unexpected of places. Cue in Bonhams Restaurant in Mayfair. Tucked away inside one of London’s oldest auction houses, a stone’s throw from the bustle of nearby Oxford Street, this 24-cover restaurant has been quietly making waves since opening in 2015.

With a CV that includes the likes of Hedone & Faviken, Head Chef Tom Kemble’s skill and focus on provenance is a joy to behold. The cuisine here is very much produce-led – an au naturale, minimal intervention cooking style with beautifully balanced flavours. Our recent dinner here was one of the best meals I’ve had in London – a delight from the very first bite to last. It’s no wonder the food critics waxed lyrical about the place. Michelin also took notice, awarding them their first star in 2016 barely a year into their opening.

Oenophiles too have reason to rejoice at Bonhams. The wine list here is easily one of the best value I’ve ever come across considering the quality. It’s great to see the auctioneer’s wine sales department passing the cost savings onto diners – a refreshing change from the steep 3x markups that have become commonplace in London. There’s also a wide selection poured by the glass, ranging from more affordable options to serious icons available via Coravin.

We went for the full 7 course £70 Tasting menu – decent value when you consider 3 courses A la Carte already starts to add up to around £55 in total. I could rave on and on about all the dishes we savoured that evening, but I’ll cover some of the standouts below.

Venison tartare, mustard ice cream & bitter leaves. A corker of a dish. The tartare was juicy, well-seasoned & just bursting with flavour. The creamy, delicately spiced mustard ice cream paired with the venison beautifully… the temperature contrast boosting the flavours further. Early days in 2017 to call a favourite dish, but this has set the bar very very high indeed.

Mesquer Pigeon, beetroot, rhubarb, pistachio & offal sauce. The pigeon main course was cooked immaculately – the breasts still pink & succulent… the flavour surprising subtle & clean by pigeon standards. I particularly loved the crispiness of the breast skin & confit’d legs. Sweet beets, tart rhubarb, toasted pistachios & a rich offal sauce brought everything together perfectly.

Granny Smith Apple Sorbet, Vanilla Crème Crue & Meringue. A seemingly simple pre-dessert, but the balance and harmony between acidity, sweetness, creaminess and textures was just spot on. Lip-smacking stuff.

On the whole, a truly terrific meal that was paired beautifully with a lush lineup of wines selected by their sommelier. If there was one shortcoming I could put a finger on it would be their completely non-descript dining room. Apart from a couple of paintings due for auction hanging on the walls, this small, first floor space is a white blank canvas… not the most inspiring of places by any means. What the restaurant lacks in atmosphere though is more than made up for by the sheer quality of the food here coupled with amiable, attentive service by an experienced front of house team.

I for one am already looking forward to returning later on in the year as the seasons and produce evolve to get more of Tom Kemble’s impeccable cooking.

G.

7 Haunch of Venison Yard, W1k 5ES, London | www.bonhamsrestaurant.com

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