Honey and Co is a small and colourful Middle Eastern restaurant in a quiet backstreet of Fitzrovia. It was opened by Israeli chefs Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich in 2012 and it focuses on a selection of Middle Eastern classics that are special like you’d expect for chefs of that caliber but never lose the je-ne-sais-quoi of home cooking. Of course, because it’s me we’re talking about, this is not a review that amounts to uninterrupted fangirling, but like any person who truly loves food, I have one or two things I would have done differently and it all comes from a place of love rather than criticism. I’m not an evil food critic, I feel like I am on the same side as those who make the food.
The restaurant is reasonably priced for the fame that it carries, although I expect anyone from outside of London will look at the menu and think I’m drunk already at 3pm. I guess London prices give you a different sense of what is cheap and what is expensive…price-wise, it’s in the kind of range I’m happy to pay. Good food, priced a little higher than other areas because of London real estate prices (but also, hopefully, because they treat and pay their staff well too). The mains are all just under £20 each, which makes the choice of the set menu with the sharing platter of mezze a no brainer. My only regret is being too full to have dessert when a feta and honey cheesecake is on the menu.
Since I went there on a Friday, the choice fell on either the prawn tagine or the roast aubergine and I went for the latter and it was entirely not penitential. In fact, it was such a good vegetable I felt absolutely no longing for meat. I was also glad I chose that and not the tagine because I had a taste of it and it was the dish I meant when I said there are things I would have done differently. I was also not a great fan of the falafels, but the goat cheese and fig salad more than made up for it. I am such a big fan of the honey they use I just went and bought a jar at Honey and Spice, their deli down the road. I also bought their tahini because I have a love/hate relationship with it. I find most brands I have tried so bitter it always goes to waste, but I liked this one so I will now stick to it religiously. I also loved the pickles and the tastiest tomatoes I have eaten outside of Italy. Their food is simple and would not be half as good if it didn’t have such good produce to back up the flavour. You can cover for less than ideal produce with sauces and elaborate spice blends, but if you are a minimalist cook then you just can’t have subpar ingredients.
I haven’t used it as much as the honey yet, though. In the 3 days following the purchase, the amount in the jar had gone down by 1/3 already and I had to seriously slow myself down. It’s thyme and herbs-infused but it still works stunningly with sweets and it’s very versatile. I get mildly frustrated at its room temperature consistency but it’s honey, what can you do. I still love it and don’ think I can ever go back to any other honey. I intend to get out once I am recovered from the first chest infection of the new cold season (it’s definitely not The Virus, but I will spare you the gross details of why that’s the case) and go to the deli again just for the shopping and then head back home afterwards, carrying the goodies that I could not purchase and carry with me the last time. I wish I did not move to the suburbs in a misguided attempt of having a grown-up life that doesn’t suit me so I could just top-up my usual Waitrose delivery with food from here, Chinatown and Nigella’s favourite Natural Kitchen (I am basically a spy, she went there in some episodes of her shows and I have tracked down the place from the limited sightings we were given after post-production. One of my proudest moments *cue 707 heart eye sticker*).
There’s so much more I want to try in London so I don’t know when I’ll be back, but I’d definitely encourage people to try at least once (and since I was with a friend and not my husband, it’s bound to be twice, especially so I can try their meats too). I would also happily get my hands on their cookery books (which look great on a shelf anyway) and cook their classics at home myself (my birthday is January 2nd, *wink wink*). I keep stealing recipes off my mother’s copy of Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem, which was a present from me many years ago and she still hasn’t learnt enough English to use so I might as well steal it, and funnily enough, both chefs behind Honey and Co have worked with him at some point. If that’s not a recommendation, I don’t know what is.