Sunday, 10 March 2013

Honey & Co London - Food from the Middle East

Honey & Co London
Cakes of the day

I had intended waiting until after I'd tried dinner at Honey & Co but one lunch and a breakfast has told me all I need to know.  This is more than just "food from the Middle East", it's nothing short of manna.

You could easily walk past this tiny little Fitzrovia cafe - at least you could if you happen to pass by before they've set out their window display.  Without that you'd be forgiven for thinking it's just another quick lunch place on a sidestreet off Tottenham Court Road.  I know I did.  Then one day I joined the ranks of the pavement stumblers, wide-eyed and disbelieving at the sheer beauty of it.  I was in.

I was going to say if you like Ottolenghi you'll like this, but actually it's quite different.  What it does have in common are its Middle Eastern roots and that owner Sarit Packer has worked at, amongst other places, Ottolenghi and Nopi.  Husband and co-owner, Itamar Srulovich, trained and worked in Tel Aviv.  Walk in and, along with the fantastic aromas of Middle Eastern spices and baking, you get an immediate warm welcome from Rachel and Holly, front-of-house.  You'll be fed well and with generosity.

Honey & Co London
Fitzrovia Buns
The breakfast menu is light on savoury dishes.  On our visit there was Ijje (a featherlight herb and feta frittata) served with plump kalamata olives, tomatoes and sour cream and two kinds of lahma (spiced lamb, tahini, pine nuts and one with Spinach, herb, egg).  Add to this a dish of yoghurt, fresh fruit and Ashura cereal, Milk bun with butter and jam, Blueberry and sour cream baked doughnuts and plate after plate of those aforementioned cakes. You will be spoilt for choice and I haven't yet mentioned the two we ordered.  If you try just one thing make it the Toasted fig, walnut and orange loaf served with butter and home-made marmalade. Rendered toffeed and chewy by the toasting, it is sensational.  If you can manage something else then I'd go for the Fitzrovia Bun.  Oh, yes - move over Chelsea Bun.  This version contains sour cherries and pistachios and has spoilt me forever for that doughy, sticky fruit bun.  One of each plus a slice of Ijje, a pot of tea and two coffees came in at a very reasonable £16 for breakfast for two, excluding tip.

A luncthime visit offered a Mezze plate for the table at £5 per person; Jerusalem style falafel with cinnamon and sesame seeds and a tahini sauce £6; Chopped chicken liver flavoured with cumin & lemon served with radish and milk bread £6; and Fennel salad, blood orange, olives and feta £6/£10.50.  For mains there were dishes such as Gundi sabzi (Persian chicken dumplings in herb broth £12.50; Ox cheek sofrito with quince served on white rice £13.50; and Siniya (roasted cauliflower, with a tahini topping, pistachios and pitta £12.50.

A large portion of Marinated violet aubergine, tahini and poached Legbar egg with crispy pitta £10.50 was fresh and moreish, and Creamy hummus topped with spiced lamb and pine nuts served with pitta bread £11.50 was beautifully spiced, of great texture and deeply comforting.  With a portion of stunning Chestnut cake with salted caramel sauce and vanilla cream and a gorgeous, moist Warm marzipan cake with spiced plums, one Orange & orange blossom water iced tea, a glass of red wine,  coffee and a bottomless teapot of rose and cinnamon tea the bill came to £46.50, excluding tip.

Oh, and they do takeaway too and have an ever-growing larder you can buy from.  I think you should realise by now I can't wait to go back.  In fact I'm already booked for dinner.

Honey & Co
25a Warren Street
Tel: 020 7388 6175
Kitchen open all day Tues-Sat until 10.30pm
Closed Sunday
Monday closes 18.00
(You really need to book for lunch and dinner and at busy times it is a squeeze)