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Bonhams Restaurant in London

Rating: 89.
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Food and art have always gone hand in hand and these days any self-respecting museum has a restaurant, or a café at least. Auction houses also have lots of art on display, albeit very temporarily, but until recently you were lucky to get a cup of tea or coffee there. London's major auction houses do have private dining rooms, but from personal experience I can confirm that the focus tends to be more on the wine than on the food (at Christie's in King Street at least). Earlier this year Sotheby's hosted a 3 day pop-up restaurant by Massimo Bottura, but Bonhams is the first major auction house to open a restaurant proper, aptly located in the Haunch of Venison yard. Bonhams restaurant ("Bonhams") on New Bond street opened its doors in February 2015 and at the helm of the kitchen is young chef Tom Kemble, who previously worked at Hedone in London and Fäviken in Sweden.


(courtesy of Bonhams)

Bonhams is open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday and on Thursday evenings there's a so-called "Supper Club". At lunch the restaurant offers an a la carte menu (starters £9.50-£12.50, mains £16.50-£26.50, desserts £7.00-£9.50) and on Supper Club nights there's a 4-course menu priced at £45. I had dinner with my husband and a friend at Bonhams on Thursday 16 July 2015.

With our aperitifs we were served two lovely bites: a buckwheat cup with a delicious filling of crab, Granny Smith and pistachio, and a puffed squid ink cracker topped with smoked cod roe mayonnaise, sprinkled with nori. 




The first course was an excellent piece of line-caught flamed mackerel, served here with a pickled radish and mackerel tartare "raviolo", a slice of creamy avocado sprinkled with paprika, and a wedge of little gem with a light dressing. Wonderfully moist and flavoursome mackerel that also had a lovely freshness to it and the flaming gave the mackerel a nice warm finish; the radish and mackerel raviolo delivered crunch and contrast. A simple but lovely dish.


Second course was potato gnocchi, successfully paired with some aromatic and mildy fruity girolle mushrooms, parsley puree, and a delicious well-made and distinctive creamy Vin Jaune sauce. The gnocchi were wonderfully delicate and fluffy, with just a touch of caramelisation on them. A superb dish with harmonious and luxurious flavours, balanced out nicely by the parsley puree.


The meal continued with beautifully cooked squab pigeon (breast and leg), served with a pea puree, fresh peas, lingonberries, fresh almonds and an offal sauce. A lovely dish with balanced flavours, but because of the textures of the pea puree and the offal sauce, also a rather dry plate. I would have preferred a light jus for elegance and to bring everything together.


Before dessert we had an extra cheese course, a good and generous selection of Beuillevaire cheeses served with quince paste (supplement £9).


Next up was a wonderfully refreshing pre-dessert of pure-tasting strawberry ice cream, a mildy sharp strawberry sauce and lime meringues. This was shortly after followed by a Tulamine raspberry mille feuille of crisp and golden brown tuilles, dusted with a tart red fruit powder - elderflower sorbet - Chantilly cream (whipped cream) with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar - fresh raspberries - and a raspberry emulsion. An attractive dessert with a lovely variety of textures and flavours, but the acidity level was on the higher side.


Bonhams is clearly a restaurant of choice if you are looking for a great value meal in Mayfair with tip-top ingredients. Tom Kemble's cooking is assured, dishes are lovingly prepared and I liked the simplicity of the menu. In all honesty however, apart from the gnocchi, nothing made me leap out of my chair. The wine list is a stand out, both in focus and in price. The mark-ups vary, but especially among the nice range of mature wines, there are relative bargains to be had. Among the digestifs, Hine Grande Champagne Cognac 1983 for £5 is a steal. Bonhams is a very promising restaurant and I do look forward to following it.


Posted 16-08-2015




 
 
 
 

 
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