The tasty thrill of the grill
Honey and Smoke’s easy-to-tackle dishes put fresh spins on Middle Eastern favourites
29 March, 2018 — By Tom Moggach
You can load up without feeling greedy at Honey and Smoke
DESCRIBED as a Middle Eastern grill, Honey and Co’s new Great Portland Street restaurant, Honey and Smoke, takes one of the simplest ways to cook grub and gives some London oomph to it – the results are spectacular.
There are plenty of fresh spins on staple favourites focusing on the searing element of this ancient cuisine.
This means lamb koftas or chops, a range of fish, or sizzly octopus – and for the vegetarian, how these guys deal with a cauliflower will make you completely rethink what this brassica is capable of.
The joy of Honey and Smoke is you can load up without feeling greedy: the menu offers easy-to-tackle dishes so you can sample what the chefs have been tinkering with.
When we settled down into a corner table, the place was packed but not noisy – it was either the acoustics of the newly refurbished room or the fact most of the diners were chomping through what was in front of them that meant buzzy conversations were dampened down.
We chose from a mezze, but we couldn’t drag our eyes from the larger courses and so opted for picking and mixing, leaving no corner unexplored.
Choosing falafel might sound like a cop-out, but these are super-charged versions, herby-green inside. A grilled pear salad came with a light almond cream. We added to this fried cauliflower with tahini. It was enjoyably crunchy and had a gentle smoky aftertaste to it.
We shared two mains. If you are feeling adventurous, and after a glass or two of the Portobello Pilsner you may be eyeing it greedily, there is roast pigeon with pine nuts and golden rice. But we went for the sure-fire choice of a charred octopus with a kick provided by a paprika and garlic dressing.
It would have felt wrong not to sample fish, after greedily asking our neighbours who were ahead of the curve with their meal, what they recommended. With eyelids closing in appreciation, both said in unison “the sea bream”, so a portion came with a side of charred cabbage and chive oil.
The grill is close enough to Honey’s original place in Warren Street not to feel like the they’ve gone chain-style large – a sad fact that when this happens to your favourite neighbourhood restaurant, something becomes diluted. No – instead, they have opened what feels a like an overspill, a pomegranate pip’s throw from their tiny original eaterie.
Honey and Co could be a tough place to get a seat, and it would be a shame if what they do wasn’t spread a little further.
Billed as Middle Eastern, it smacks of trendy Tel Aviv by way of the vendors in Marrakech’s Jemaa el-Fnaa square, taking in Lebanese styles on its way north to Turkey. This delightful restaurant is a poster boy for the uniting force of the falafel.
Honey & Smoke: Middle Eastern Grill
216 Great Portland Street, W1W 5QW
0207 388 6175