You’d walk past it if you didn’t know. And you wouldn’t know unless you’d read Marina O’Loughlin’s lovely review of this (or at least I wouldn’t). And given her review, I really had to try it.
It’s run by a couple of ex-Ottolenghi employees and you can see certain similarities. There’s an attention to detail that’s unusual and a skill with presentation that marks this above the ordinary. I’d say it was Middle-Eastern food, but with a twist.
And the twist is that this is actually Israeli food. And therein lies the difference. Israeli food is partly Middle Eastern, to a point, but it’s also Eastern European, and Moroccan, and Syrian and Iraqi and Yemeni and all the other places that Jews originally came from before they settled in Israel.
And Israelis love food and they aren’t afraid of mixing it up and experimenting. This reminds me of some of the really great and interesting food I’ve eaten in Tel Aviv and until now, the only place I knew which served innovative Israeli food was Ottolenghi itself.
There are literally dozens of Israeli food offerings in Golders Green, Hendon etc, but few outside what I would call the “traditional” Jewish enclaves in London. And they are more conventional than this and you’d be hard pressed to distinguish them from the very many wonderful Lebanese and Iraqi places in the W2 area.
Some of them are excellent, but, as with the W2 restaurants, not necessarily accessible to outsiders. Solly’s in Golders Green is an experience but not one I’d necessarily want to share with some of my more reserved friends.
So whilst Honey & Co is Middle Eastern at heart and there are things that look like the usual suspects – such as a mezze plate or stuffed vine leaves – there are also unusual combinations, like the salad of persimmons, goat’s curd, lambs lettuce and toasted hazelnuts that I had, drizzled with honey. And a steak salad, with Turkish figs and pumpkin puree. You’d not get that down the Edgware road.
And the cauliflower shawarma, my favourite dish to date, is a great big plate of loveliness, with complex textures and flavours, bigging up what is normally a side vegetable. I’d had neighbouring plate-envy last time I’d been in and had to pay a return visit to order it.
And this is a restaurant not afraid to be simple either – a dish of meatballs with pumpkin was just that.
And very delicious it was too.
And the desserts, if you find you have room, are things of gorgeousness like warm marzipan cake, or cheesecake with kadaif pastry and Greek pine and fir honey. I’m afraid that cheesecake, in some form or other, is a necessary addition to the Jewish diet.
This is superior comfort food. The sort of stuff I might make at home and the sort of stuff I always want to make at home. And you can book. Hurrah. An email to the restaurant gets an almost instant response. And they’re friendly too.
I know, the tables are packed together very tightly and it’s incredibly busy but it’s worth all that for the very lovely atmosphere, the enthusiastic service and most of all, the delicious food. And I wish I wasn’t moving offices soon, because it won’t be on my doorstep anymore.