What's the draw:
Does anyone else find sharing plates a stressful experience? Sure, on the surface they bring an atmosphere of conviviality to the table, but underneath simmers social awkwardness, self doubt and just a dash of resentment. Every occasion leads to internal turmoil: how much of each dish can we eat? Why has Sarah finished that veggie plate when she knows we don't eat meat? Is anyone going to eat that, because we're starving? Whether these are problems you face or not, rejoice in Honey & Smoke, where you start with a smörgåsbord of sharing starters before being able to order a main all for yourself. And for a wallet-friendly £32.50, to boot. We were sold in a heartbeat. Of course, that's without even taking into account that this is the second restaurant from Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich of Honey & Co, with a menu that looks to the grill houses of Jerusalem, Jaffa, Acre and Istanbul. Think hummus, falafel, and delicately collapsing lamb. Think beaten copper, turquoise tiles and a meal so good it'll soothe frazzled minds and stomachs.
What to drink:
The Middle East has one of the longest-standing traditions of viticulture, and its wines are, consequently, brilliant. With this in mind, we went straight for a white 2012 dabouki from the Cremisan Wine Estate in Bethlehem. The dabouki grape is native to Armenia, fermented in stainless steel and gets no ageing, leading to a distinctly fresh minerality, softened by notes of apricot that made it a perfect pairing to the flavour-packed food. But what we particularly liked here was the story: the estate is in Palestine's West Bank, and has been managed by the Catholic Salesians of Don Bosco since 1891 – making it a Catholic wine from a Muslim State in a Jewish country.
What to eat:
The seasonal sharing starters are non-negotiable, but that's not a problem. Particular highlights are the lightest, crispiest Egyptian falafel with a big smear of tahini sauce; a courgette, dried apricot and pistachio salad (make sure you get a generous helping of this one); and the delightfully thick and creamy housemade labneh with charred asparagus, broad beans and spring onion. As for mains… It all looks so good that you might just want to persuade your friends to share after all. Tranches of smoky grilled aubergine are topped with scoops of tahini and a burnt egg yolk just begging for you to dip in soldiers of charred sourdough. Lamb fatayer are parcels of joy: flatbreads stuffed with lamb shawarma, yoghurt spiked with amba (a pickled mango sauce) and made utterly irresistible by the sweet and sour kick of caramelised onions. Veggie, meat-y or pesc-y, you're laughing. After all that, you probably won't have space for more, but try your best – the feta and honey cheesecake on a kadaif base (think shredded wheat) and piled up with fresh fruit is legendary for a reason. Get two.
Sharing starters and main, £32.50. Wine from £8/glass; 216 Great Portland St, W1W 5QW. honeyandco.co.uk