Opened in 2012, our first solo adventure is a tiny restaurant serving traditional middle eastern food, the kind you find in people’s homes using the best ingredient we can get our hands on. There’s always lamb roasting in the oven, salads & tahini with everything, lots of cakes on the counter, jams and cookies on the shelves if you want to take something sweet with you, and Rachael on the floor with a big smile and a cheesy joke.
Sarit Packer – Was born in Northern Israel and has done a lot since: she has moved to London twice, she trained as a chef in Butlers Wharf cookery school, worked at the Orrery in Marylebone, rolled pasta by the beach, got married, made cookies in a disused chicken coop, ran an all day bistro, made truffles on the 8th floor of the OXO tower, headed the pastry section in Ottolenghi and set up Nopi in Soho as executive chef. She set up Honey & Co (with her husband) in 2012 and has slept very little since.
Itamar Srulovich – Was born in Jerusalem and moved to Tel Aviv to pursue his dream of becoming a backgammon champion beach bum – something he still aspires to be. He started his kitchen life in Orna & Ella, A Tel Aviv institution. He got married and moved to London where he cooked in the Oxo tower and headed the Kitchen in Ottolenghi before setting up Honey & Co (with his wife) in 2012. He only plays backgammon on holidays now.
Joint ventures; Honey & Co – A tiny diner serving traditional, homey Middle Eastern fair in London’s Fitzrovia set up & run by Sarit, Itamar and the most amazing team. Since opening we have published a cookbook that tells about setting up the restaurant and a baking book that tells about our daily routines at work. We have opened a little deli called Honey & Spice and a big Grill house called Honey & Smoke, both in the neighborhood, and we write a weekly column for the FT weekend magazine. Our latest book ‘At home’ is all about the food we cook in our own kitchen and our life outside of work, whatever there is of it.
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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
For a little piece of Honey & Co. at home…
Contact us if you would like to order a signed copy of either of our books, or find them online or in bookshops.
Food From The Middle East
Sunday Times Food Book of the Year
This is our food, this is our restaurant – fresh fruit and vegetables, wild honey, big bunches of herbs, crunchy salads, smoky lamb, bread straight from the oven, old-fashioned stews, Middle Eastern traditions, falafel, dips, and plenty of tahini on everything.
Squeeze in, grab a chair, ignore or enjoy the noise, the buzz and tuck in. Leave room for dessert – cheesecake or a marzipan cookie with a Turkish coffee. Let us look after you – welcome to Honey & Co.
There is a cheering warmth here, from the quinces on the cover to the self-deprecating stories about running a small business. Above all, I commend this book because my kitchen has never smelt as good when cooking from it.
Food Book of the Year, The Sunday Times
The lure of this book about an eatery is clear: the owners’ stories that reflect on love, immigration and identity are endearing and universal, and the book is heavily seasoned with them… If you love Honey & Co, this book is a must-read.
Time Out, Cookbook of the Week
Middle Eastern Cooking at its most inspiring. Brilliantly useful and exquisitely designed.
BBC Good Food Magazine
The Baking Book
Our day is marked by what comes out of the pastry section, and there’s always something good on the way: sticky buns full of cherries and pistachios in the morning; a loaf of rich dough rolled with chocolate, hazelnuts and cinnamon that comes out of the oven fresh for elevenses. Lunch is a crisp, crumbly shell of pastry filled with spiced lamb or burnt aubergine, and at teatime there are cookies, cheesecakes, fruit cakes – so many cakes that it’s hard to choose one.
After dinner there might be poached peaches with roses or something more traditional – sweet and salty Knafe drenched in orange blossom syrup. There’s something sweet, something in the oven for everyone, all day long – welcome to Honey & Co.
This is a great book for anyone who’s even moderately interested in baking, or just eating amazing things, but baking pros will get a lot out of it, too.
The seemingly inexhaustible list of secrets wielded in Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer’s kitchen is unwrapped here for your home-baking pleasure.
Buns for breakfast, pie for lunch and cheesecake for tea: it’s always time for something from one of OFM’s favourite restaurants.
Observer Food Monthly
Honey & Co: At Home