There's a certain beauty to small intimate spaces, especially when those spaces are designed with the purpose of serving fine cuisine. Inevitably, such spaces give rise to better experiences: the customers feel more special, the service becomes more personal and the chefs have greater control over the quality and detailing of the dishes sent to their customers. Simply put, everybody wins. It would seem like this strategy is the secret behind Bonham restaurant's success - only within six months of opening the restaurant secured its first michelin star.
Soon enough (after minutes of trying to find the right entrance) MRG and I were welcomed into the restaurant and we were taken upstairs to the main dining space. The dining area had a very modern vibe with its white walls, vibrant artworks and linearly arranged square tables draped in white crisp linens. I wouldn't say I felt cosy but my excitement for the food didn't waver.
We both opted for the impressive looking £60 5-course dinner menu, which also included two complementary additional courses. We had a sampling of canapés to start. The first type was a smoky and lovely squid ink cracker with cod roe emulsion. The second type was a buckwheat crisp with pheasant egg mayonnaise and trout eggs - this had a more interesting taste profile as it began with a salty intensity which mellowed down nicely.
Now that our palates had received a little warm up, we were ready to dive into the formal course offerings. First up was the smoked trout with a potato foam and dill-pickled cucumber. This was a wonderful take on a classic as they replaced the usual crème fraîche with a potato foam that still had an integral creamy texture but with a more earthy substance to it. Also, the subtle sharpness from the dill-pickled cucumber balanced out the trout's saltiness.
Next up was the Cornish Turbot with seaweed sabayon, smoked potatoes and cockles. First off, the turbot was cooked to perfection. More importantly, I fell in love with the sabayon - it brought everything together with its underlying yet noticeable smoky flavour. The potatoes had a similar smoky quality but could have done with more salt. On a less important note, the mustard leaves were a bit too bitter but helped give some textural variety to the dish. Overall, this was a thoroughly enjoyable course by way of the balanced flavours and the lucid aromas.
The main star of the evening was the roasted pigeon breast and confit leg with beetroot, cherry and duck jus. This dish was impeccably presented and executed as it embodied summer both in terms of its visual appeal and its flavours. The pigeon breast was tender, juicy and flavourful and these qualities only intensified when I tasted the confit leg. I loved the incorporation of the fruits, which added a dimension of sweetness and acidity that contrasted with the pigeon's savouriness. It was absolutely divine ... if only there was more of it!
We skipped the optional cheese course and went straight to the pre-dessert - a mango sorbet with coconut foam and a sugar tuile. As I expected, this course was very refreshing and the sorbet was lovely but I found the essence of the coconut to be lost in its foam.
The final dessert involved strawberries with summer fruit coulis, Moscato sabayon, fromage blanc sorbet and a canelé tuile. Although this dessert was very flavourful, all the textures were too light and airy. The dish was screaming for a bit of density which could have been delivered through a cake or pastry element.
During this fantastic meal, we had a serving of two fabulous wines, the first of which was a 2013 white Bordeaux (Château Doisy-Daëne) and the second of which was a 2013 Austrian Pinot noir select (Weingut Wieninger).
On the whole, Bonhams restaurant has delivered my favourite meal so far in 2016. The chefs impressed me with the quality and sourcing of ingredients, their attention to detail and their ability to cleverly balance the flavours and textures in each dish whilst maintaining exemplary innovative twists. With regard to the ambience, I felt like I was eating in a dining club - the service was impeccable, the menu was concise and the neutral atmosphere allowed me to really focus on what I was tasting. I can only say I'll be coming back sometime soon - maybe for lunch. Yes I know, the meal is no 'bargain' but I bet you'll be getting a better deal here than at most London restaurants meeting this culinary standard!
7 Haunch of Venison Yard
London, W1K 5ES