Bistrot at Wild Honey


How many times have you been to a fancy or expensive restaurant and thought that what you’d really like is the chance to visit the same place, but pay less money for a simpler menu? (Or, perhaps, the opposite, but such things are rare.) When I visited Wild Honey, Anthony Demetre’s Michelin-starred St James spin-off of his original Mayfair restaurant, in late 2022, I was highly impressed by the carefully choreographed and superbly executed dishes, writing of it that it was “a giddy pleasure…one of the best meals that I’ve enjoyed in recent memory.” Yet one feature that I remarked upon, almost in passing, was that you could have visited here and had a set lunch for £35; an outrageously good price for food of this calibre.

Demetre, something of a genius both as chef and restaurateur – I have fond memories of his much-missed Soho spot Arbutus – has now capitalised on both the large space in which his restaurant is contained and people’s desire to eat his food without spending considerable three-figure sums on their dinner. To this end, he has opened a casual, complementary destination, the Bistrot at Wild Honey, downstairs in the same room, which cleaves closer to the more casual dishes available at Arbutus, and does them exceptionally well.

Central London has its fair share of bistros and brasseries, to be sure, but this is something rather special. It may have been quiet when we visited on a Thursday evening, but that is surely out of a lack of knowledge about the delights that await, rather than any dissatisfaction, because this is seriously good food, at seriously reasonable prices.

I’ve met Demetre before, a few times, and he comes out to say hello just after a couple of plates of beignets – wonderful stuff – are brought out. I’ve always liked him; for a chef who’s been at the top of his game for decades now, he’s refreshingly no-nonsense, happy to talk candidly and openly about a couple of unsatisfactory places that he was installed temporarily as a consultant chef in. But here he is, in situ, and proud of what he’s doing here. “I see myself as more French than English”, he remarks, “and what I wanted to do is to create the kind of bistro that you’d get in France, but using really top-quality British ingredients.”

Well, he has succeeded admirably. We place ourselves entirely in his hands for the evening – after all, who knows the menu better than its chef-patron? – and we’re not remotely disappointed. A starter of crispy Tamworth pig’s head could easily have graced the menu for Wild Honey proper, and English asparagus with poached egg vinaigrette is simplicity itself, and all the better for it. And, oh, the chicken, pork and duck terrine – suffice it to say if this is your bag, you’ll be in heaven.

Mains of steak frites (with, naturally, Koffmann fries) and pork choucroute are similarly fine, served with all manner of superb sauces and salads, but what I’m deeply, lingeringly impressed by are the red prawns grilled, and served simply with a little paprika; proof, if it were needed, that sometimes all you need for a really memorable meal are superb quality ingredients, with as little intervention as possible.

Obviously, the wine list is well-chosen, short and to the point. But it also represents a rare example of an establishment, especially in this location and setting, where you can get really superb value if you listen to the sommelier. I began by asking for a glass of Albarino, but am steered back towards the cheaper Riesling; sampling both back to back, I find that it’s a far better fit for what we’re dining on.

And exactly the same is true for the mains. I observe that there’s a bottle of Chateau Meledan on the menu, a Merlot-Cabernet blend from Bordeaux, and am all set to order that, before I am guided to a Duc de Belmont Pinot Noir from Burgundy, £10 cheaper and an infinitely more suitable accompaniment. This isn’t a place bothered with upselling or trying to screw their diners over; instead, everyone here knows exactly what both good food and great hospitality are, and ensure that diners are going to have plenty of both.

We’re somewhat hors de combat by the time that desserts come around, but still manage to find room to share the chocolate delice, which more than lives up to its name, and the accompaniment of a particularly finely crafted espresso martini makes for a suitably tumultuous and dramatic end to a superlative meal. The second coming of Wild Honey, then, is a truly special place, somewhere to take enormous pleasure in, whatever your budget. Thank you, Mr – or should that be Monsieur? – Demetre, all over again.

Bisrot at Wild Honey, Sofitel St James, 8 Pall Mall, St. James’s, London SW1Y 5NG. For more information, including details of the £9 ‘cinq a sept’ special for a glass of the day’s white or red paired with your choice of ham or cheese croquettes, please visit