If ‘sustainable’ is the culinary mot du jour, then this new part-time restaurant in Islington has got mention-itis. The Bonnie and Wild is the thinking foodie’s bite!
The Bonnie and Wild moonlights in M Manze’s pie and mash shop in Chapel Market on Friday and Saturday nights with its super wild, fresh, organic and sustainable Scottish nosh. It’s a simple yet innovative idea, with the ‘we’re all in it together’ touch that people went so crazy for with the pop-ups – only the emphasis is more on the food than lap-dancing your neighbour here, thank god. A choice of three starters and mains, two sides and then cheese or dessert is served by strapping men who look like they’ve just carried the deer off the moor themselves. What’s not to love?
Ushered into a long thin booth with wooden benches that keep your bottom alert, the mirrors, dark wood and tiled interior make it nice and intimate, though the noise does ricochet around like pinballs. For starters, i-D was served four Maldon Oysters with red wine vinegar and shallots and a baked goats cheese and fig salad with hearty leaves, which was perfect, if a bit of a lame choice. The barbecued pigeon breast would have been wilder, but we opted for a pan-fried coley fillet with baby surf clams, peas and chorizo in a citrus butter for the main. The fish was perfectly cooked and its jazzy accompaniments added intrigue to a fish that can be accused of lacking in flavour as well as conscience. Sides were crisp and guilty fries and a generous and oily tussle of grilled halloumi, roasted courgette, aubergine and red pepper pesto.
The venison chateaubriand, like a glistening chocolate log would surely have been fantastic too, with its mini pots of béarnaise sauce and redcurrant jus, but it’s served for two so requires a meeting of meat eating minds. All the meat and fish is sustainable, if we can say it again, and exceptionally sourced from collaborators Bonnie Gull seafood company and the Wild Game company. So everything is pretty much still pulsing, or wincing, when it gets to the table and has lived a lean, muscle-bound life we are assured.
The Bonnie and Wild is a different dining experience, but it’s a relief to eat somewhere that feels impromptu and inspired, resting somewhere between a restaurant and a show-case for top notch ingredients and conscientious cooking. You have to walk through the kitchen to get to the loos, which is a reassuring trick, and it all looks quite art collaboration with people compiling plates and the creative chef, Iain Smith of Edinburgh’s award-winning Mussell Inn fame, out the back on the barbecue with the fish and chips.
Price is £29 for three courses barring sides and the £3.50 corkage per person, and it’s bring your own booze. The staff are helpful and informed, in addition to emanating health in a reassuring fashion, and serious about the food they serve. In fact this part-time enterprise seems seriously sustainable in both concept and produce. Just be sure to book in advance.
Text: Connie Allfrey