The name refers to Emilia-Romagna – a region in northern Italy that’s known for its medieval cities, fabulous gastronomy, and clusters of historic and foodie markets. The menu, meanwhile, pays homage to the culture of the area and a love of sensational Italian cuisine. Although it’s located within Bonhams’ flagship London saleroom, Emilia has a distinctly more modern approach than the antiques being auctioned for a fine price mere meters away. There’s fresh raviolo of rabbit and fennel, for example, and tagliatelle with green asparagus and broad beans.
Emilia has also been furnished with a modern look and feel – the upstairs restaurant is a bright, light-drenched riff on the rustic ristoranti you always hope to stumble across in a cobbled Italian side-street. There are floor-to-ceiling windows, potted olive trees, and crisp white tablecloths, making it the ideal spot for a springtime luncheon when you don’t want to feel hidden away from the outside world and its fairer elements. Although small, the windows on each side let in a beautiful light and we had the sensation of dining on a pristine white boat.
Our meal began with divine chunks of parmesan: salty, sunshine-yellow cubes that set the tone for the rest of the afternoon. A later highlight was the violet artichokes with kale pesto, ricotta and peas. The satisfying, lip-coating oiliness of vivid green pesto combined with the fresh garden pop of peas was an inspired combination. Then there were the almost translucent spears of white asparagus, topped with sweet coins of scallops and drizzled in a silky, creamy sauce speckled with parsley. Tastes and textures working together in blissful harmony – we’d definitely order again.
The day’s dessert and cheese options are displayed, resplendent, on a dining table at the back of the restaurant – so good luck avoiding ordering something sweet to finish. Our finale of fennel ice cream with strawberry granita and an abundance of red berries transported us to a sun-washed day in an English summer garden, and made for a refreshing finish to a delightful meal.
Wine lovers rejoice: this is the place to expand your repertoire, if you should so wish. The auction-house location has proven handy, with a special wine list that sits alongside the everyday drinking menu. Here, exclusive wines have been sourced in tandem with the Bonhams Wine Department and can be found in the ‘Auction List’. With the use of Coravin and Enomatic, you’ll be able to taste the wine of odd bottles from collectors, without spending the big bucks on a whole bottle – unless you want to, of course.
If you desire something a little more casual than heading to the 25-seater restaurant, wander into the walk-ins only wine bar below. The ambience here is more informal, with sharing plates to dip into while testing out over 20 wines by the glass. If fried potatoes with aioli and balsamic alongside a glass of 2001 Château Leoville Barton sounds like your idea of an afternoon well-spent, then you’re most certainly not alone. Emilia has become our new Italian best-friend; the one we can never say no to when one more glass is suggested.
|What||Emilia restaurant, Mayfair review|
|Where||Emilia, 7 Haunch of Venison Yard, Mayfair, W1K 5ES | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Bond Street (underground)|