It’s about quince salads with mint, honeyed hazelnuts, chilli and fresh curd cheese, deep intense bowls of lamb shawarma on crispy pitta bread or chicken tagine with chestnuts, raisins and date molasses. Most of all there are Sarit’s cakes, including the Fitzrovia bun, their pistachio and cherry take on the curls of the Chelsea bun. The critics, including this one, have all swooned and it has quickly developed a huge fan base.
The restaurant is tiny, with space for no more than 20 people. On a warm night it feels exactly like wandering into a little family-run room, after a snoozy day sunbathing on holiday, and quickly cottoning on that you’ve found a winner…
This is indeed food made by people who like to eat. It is food that cares less about how it looks than how it tastes. Call me sentimental. Call me soppy. But it feels like an act of love. Perhaps I’m getting old.
Here, the food is as much about creating an atmosphere as it is about any individual dish, a new way of looking at Middle Eastern cuisine, subtler, more modern. I sound pretentious. This nook of a restaurant isn’t.
Honey & Co is a tiny but faultless Middle Eastern café restaurant behind Warren Street tube station, with reasonable prices and room for about 20 people, tops. It doesn’t try too hard and doesn’t need to when the cooking is so excellent.
The ingredient that is in every mouthful, that isn’t on the menu, is the huge dollop of home-made love. (…) This food comes from a husband and wife making their own small business from a tiny kitchen and small dining room, and everything in it is infused with a warm hug of hospitality…
This husband-and-wife team have an impressive pedigree: Itamar Srulovich was most recently head chef at Ottolenghi, while his wife Sarit Packer was both head of pastry at Ottolenghi and executive chef at Nopi. Every item here, from the breads and pastries stacked up in the window to jars of exotic jams and preserved lemons, is made on the premises in the basement bakery and kitchen. Srulovich describes the vibrant, homely menu as ‘food from the Middle East’; not merely Israeli but drawing on the roots in the whole of the region, including the culinary traditions of Jewish immigrants from Algeria, Morocco and Iraq. The food here is stunning, alive with colour and texture. It is not, however, ‘Jewish’ food; non-kosher ingredients such as prawns sometimes appear on the daily-changing menu.
It’s the kind of stuff you’d love to dish up to your pals and bask in the resulting praise… What a radical formula this is: good food, friendly service, decent prices – plus, there’s not a filament lightbulb in sight. Who knows: it might just catch on.
I have also purchased several of its excellent cakes and resisted the temptation to pass them off as my own creations… Even a few minutes in Honey & Co. can feel like a sojourn in the Middle East.
Our cookbook has got so much love, here are some highlights…
Best Cookery Book 2015, Fortnum & Mason
Jeremy Round Award for Best First Book, Guild of Food Writers
Book of the Year 2014, Sunday Times