A friend sent me a review by Jay Rayner in The guardian, having noticed that it mentioned Fäviken and thinking it would be of interest. How right he was. We popped into Bonham's on a quiet Thursday lunchtime.
It struck me briefly as odd, visiting a restaurant in an auction house. The normal clientele presumably ought to be those going to bid and deciding to pop in for a spot of lunch. Not the usual place to find a chef of note. Indeed the room is a rather cold, small white box and the staff, while charming, seemed more used to dealing with auction house traffic than the curious food enthusiasts who have likely started booking tables as a result of Rayner's review. Nevertheless Tom Kemble's cooking deserves to be noticed.
The pricing is punchy (especially the main courses) for lunch, but almost every dish was extremely well executed, combining excellent ingredients with a light touch and New Nordic influences.
The only rather odd thing that happened was after being served the turbot we were told that the fish portion was smaller than normal owing to 'water loss during cooking' and £6 was duly removed from the bill. Looking back at the photo the dish was served with small pieces of fish here and there that didn't look intended, and the overall plating was off. Certainly not the end of the world but a sign that there is still room for improvement. I for one will be very much looking forward to the next time I can go back and er, just check things have done just that.
These deliciously crunchy squid ink tapioca crackers were a perfect partner for briny, bouncy trout roe mellowed with dill yoghurt.
Petals of buttery ripe avocado, topped with sorrel leaves enveloped meaty shards of juicy sweet Cornish crab meat. The genius here was the lift given to each bite by the tangy dill flower infused egg white foam. It was dense enough to sit between a marshmallow and a mousse, but light enough to disappear on the tongue, leaving behind a cloud of lemony, floral flavour.
This was my absolute favourite dish for its astounding level of depth and intriguing flavour combinations. The mustard ice cream tasted milder than a horseradish cream one might be served with traditional smoked eel preparations, but it was enough to bring the pairing to mind without clashing violently with the fresh summery flavour of the cold gazpacho. Little hidden nuggets of rich, soft eel were heavenly with the intense Daterrini tomato soup. Finally tiny little cucumber and red pepper dice added to the textural fun along with croutons and dill infused oil.
Flamed Cornish mackerel was smoky and succulent if not crisp skinned, with tartare that interestingly was warmed and sandwiched between wafer thin rounds of sweet pickled daikon, reminiscent of the Japanese tradition of marinating raw mackerel before serving it as sushi. Creamy sesame dressed romaine lettuce was lovely but the paprika dusted avocado seemed unnecessary.
Squab pigeon breast and crispy leg with baby beetroots, cherry and almond purée, endive and offal sauce. The riot of colours and style of presentation reminded me of a similar looking pigeon dish I ate at Tom Aikens many years ago, perhaps around 2001. Both comprised a classic pairing of juicy, gamey pigeon breasts with rich, almost chocolaty, offal sauce, earthy sweet beetroots and blood red cherries, the flavour of the latter supported by creamy white fresh almonds.
Cornish Turbot with charred cucumber, spinach, smoked Jersey Royals and beurre blanc. The log of charred cucumber reminded me of the little cucumber balls I ate at Noma that had been rolled in cucumber ash. Here the vegetable was also served ribboned and lightly pickled but it's hard to see as this 'way' had been smothered in the vibrant green beurre blanc.
Warmed Mara des Bois strawberries with lime meringue, lemon verbena and yoghurt sorbet. You can't really ever go wrong with a summertime dessert that combines strawberries with citrus, cream and crunch but this was a particularly good version. Mixing warmed, macerated strawberries with freshly cut ones allow you to enjoy the best of both.
Salted caramel chocolates provided a very Gordon Ramsay petit fours finish, along with mango macaroons.