When a tiny restaurant in the very unglamorous (despite the product) rag trade zone behind Great Portland Street is still filling up its tables at three o'clock, there's something up. And that is Honey & Co, a Middle Eastern owned and themed eaterie where, without booking, you might just squeeze in mid-afternoon on a rainy day.
I must admit my first impressions were hardly of a charitable nature. An over loud waitress took us through the menu options as though we were pre-school children. And I really don't go for this precious, pretentious pricing style of “14” instead of £14.00. Do the restaurant owners think the UK will change currency during the duration of the menu's validity? Or maybe they can't find the £ key on their computers?
But once I'd got over that, I could begin the see what was going for Honey & Co. It's partly the atmosphere – it's laid back, it's classless, it's a mix, and while you're about two centimetres away from the next table, somehow you keep your privacy and can have a conversation with your fellow diner. All this while still able to maintain you are special (those turned away at the door add to this exclusivity).
Most of all, however, it's about the food. What you get depends on the time of day. There's a breakfast menu, which is about as far away from a Full English as you can get. Dishes (£6.90 or around) range from Lahma, which is roasted marinated peppers , walnut muhamra (a peppers, nuts and pomegranate molasses dip) and feta on a pitta bread base to a filo pastry pie with cheese and zaatar (a soft sesame bread).
As you can see, it helps to have a glossary of middle eastern food to hand if you don't want to ask!
But we went for lunch – and as first timers, opted for the set meal. It's £29.50 (or £26.50 if you don't take a pudding – omitting dessert would be a sin, however) and you get a selection of mezze including olives, falafel, and tabule, and a choice of main courses, both vegetarian and carnivore.
I opted for the slow cooked duck with clementines & apricots baked in kadaif pastry. I am not sure how to describe the pastry but the dish was delicious. My partner went for the chicken dumplings in spiced broth, chickpeas, herbs & Persian lemon. She pronounced this as excellent – and more than enough to fill her.
I felt the same but as one of the attractions of Honey & Co is the desserts (available as a stand alone dish) we naturally felt we had to go for a pudding. I had the pistachio baklava – hard to go wrong unless you make a mess of the pastry and economise on the filling. Well, neither disaster happened.
The drinks list is a little disappointing especially on the beer side where there is a choice of one rather overpriced bottle as much of this food cries out for something hoppy. House wines start at around £20 a bottle are a better bet but at nearly £30, the prosecco is too much.
To sum up, squeeze in and concentrate on the food.
Honey & Co 25a Warren Street, London W1T 5LZ Tel. 020 7388 6175
Closed Sundays www.honeyandco.co.uk
Nearest tubes Warren Street, Great Portland Street