Hive at Selfridges in Marylebone: 100,000 bees and elegant dishes that pay homage to honey
Beyond the buzz and the threatening stinger, bees safeguard a precious substance. Their honey, correctly classed into different varieties and carefully dosed, makes for a mellow ingredient, finding its place on the table in main courses, cheese boards, snacks and all manner of desserts. With an army of 100,000 laborious insects, the new restaurant on the third floor of Selfridges houses a decent stockpile of the precious syrup, which indeed sits at the centre of the menu. Hive’s culinary concept delivers lunch, dinner and an afternoon tea service with a – French – cheese and honey pairing.
Polished wooden panels decorate the intimate dining space, the interior coloured according to a palette of soft tones recalling different honey hues. Bee sculptures unobtrusively scale the ceiling, crawling above vases of flowers and golden garnishes.
The onsite harvest is complemented by the support of the variegate supply by the artisanal farm Le Miel des Français. Acacia, buckwheat, rosemary, mountain, rhododendron and so on: a line of orange-tinted jars is spaced near the counter for a first glimpse of the assortment available, whose names are found through the menus, starting from the drinks. Contrary to general belief, honey doesn’t just sweeten the cocktails, but it can also enhance and sharpen the flavours within the glass. Although we are initially enticed by the titles of Bee Natural and Beezou Spritz, we eventually fall on a classic. Old Buckwheat Fashioned is a particular twist of the traditional concoction, starting from the base – a Havana 7 rum, rather than whiskey – mixed with calvados and buckwheat honey. It’s a cooling tipple that nicely tickles the tongue. The non-alcoholic list is also appealing, and includes our second pick, a botanical Lavender Fields.
All the dishes are tied together with the recurring use of fresh ingredients and pretty presentation. This is particularly true of our seafood starters. The sautéed octopus, moistened in lemon and thyme, is juicy to just the right degree, and it introduces us to a prominent component of all the courses. The tentacles lay on a smooth bed of chickpeas and saffron cream, which marries the other elements on the plate in a delicately satisfying way. The same happens with the seared scallops, which are served with a purée of celeriac and peas.
The perfect flavour combination arrives with the Cornfed Roasted Chicken. Split down the middle by a textured gratin of savoyard potatoes and cherry tomatoes, the meat is thinly glazed with honey sauce. We then find another enticing velvety base, this time of polenta and cheese, topped by a tender monkfish cut and finished with rosemary honey.
The Lavender Honey Crème Brûlée is a lush ending to the dinner. But the winner of the dessert competition is undeniably the Hive Signature. An ice-cream hive flavoured with chestnut honey, enveloped in a solid chocolate shell, sits on pear wedges displayed as petals and a bee pollen bottom resembling rocks. Inside the casket, there are yuzu chunks. It’s an adorable plate for these unexpectedly refreshing bites.
On this long-overdue visit to Selfridges’ multi-floor store, Hive materialises as a delectable oasis. Elegant in its own unique way, the honey-based concept pleases the eyes and the taste buds, and may just feed one’s curiosity, encouraging visitors to deepen their knowledge of this golden ingredient.
Photos: Virginie Viche
To book a table at Hive Restaurant at Selfridges, 400 Oxford Street London W1A 1AB, call 020 7318 3170 or visit their website here. World-renowned Michelin-starred chef Claude Bosi will also host a supper club at Hive at 6.30pm on 22nd June. Bosi has designed a honey-themed four-course menu priced at £120pp. Tickets can be booked here.