Hive at Selfridges review: honey-based restaurant lives up to the buzz
High-quality honey from on-site hives adds a sweet twist to the French-inspired menu
Through no fault of the restaurant, my evening at Hive didn’t get off to the best start. After squeezing onto a packed Tube carriage, my journey took a nightmarish turn when a physical fight broke out directly next to me (and on that note, no he wasn’t staring at your girlfriend).
Abandoning the Tube one stop early to escape the mayhem, I spent the next 15 minutes wending my way through the throngs of absent-minded Oxford Street shoppers making the most of the summer sales. Sweaty and stressed about missing my reservation, I eventually arrived at my destination, Selfridges, and headed directly to the food court, foolishly assuming that was where Hive would be (yes, I should have read the email properly).
Swerving between yellow-bag-clutching browsers, I hunted for the restaurant in vain before eventually asking a shop assistant to point me in the right direction. Not only was I on the wrong floor but also on the wrong side of the building. After ten more minutes of pushing past people (and perspiring), I finally reached the restaurant, located on the third floor near the lingerie department.
Despite arriving in a frazzled state, a sense of calm washed over me as soon as I was shown to my table. Hive’s minimalist, white-gold interior combined with its friendly, informal atmosphere makes the intimate space feel instantly relaxing. The restaurant’s honey-centric set-up is brought to life by its decor, from its Instagram-friendly neon wall sign reading “Home is where your Honey is” and golden crockery to the wooden tables which feature dark amber glass running down their middle – reminiscent of a decadently thick orange blossom honey.
Most of the dishes (and cocktails) on the French-inspired menu incorporate high-quality, natural honey, from the cornfed roast chicken breast served with honey-glazed carrots, to the Eton mess that contains honeycomb. Just a few metres away from the restaurant is an internal terrace, visible through floor-to-ceiling windows, containing Selfridges’ on-site beehives, which are home to more than 100,000 bees. Their honey was harvested for the first time in late August this year.
Hive opened in December 2020 but was soon forced to close during the second lockdown. It was founded by “honey expert and entrepreneur” Khalid Samata who, according to Time Out, spent years “perfecting both monofloral and polyfloral honeys” in order to play around with various flavours. The honey incorporated in the menu is harvested both from the Selfridges hives and from the artisanal farm Le Miel des Français in west London.
After perusing the menu, my dining companion and I opted to start with the scallops, which were perfectly cooked and served with a pea purée, purple cauliflower and samphire, and the baked St Marcellin (a soft, French cow’s cheese), which came with salad, toasted sourdough and a generous drizzle of mountain honey and truffle oil. The sweetness of the honey, crunchiness of the bread and sour tang of the cheese combined to make this dish a real showstopper.
Our starters were washed down with a Bee Natural cocktail (a lovely but lethal mix of Hennessy cognac, lavender honey, cranberry juice, absinthe and champagne) and a Nutty Naughty Bee (Beefeater gin, chestnut honey, lemon juice, tonka bean bitter and black sesame). The detailed drinks list also includes non-alcoholic cocktails, champagne and wine.
Next up were our mains: monkfish roasted with rosemary and honey, served on a bed of salad leaves, silky-smooth polenta, cheese and sweetcorn kernels, and the flank steak, which was cooked to perfection and came with a herby sauce. Both were flawless, but it was our shared side which was truly out of this world: the crispest, saltiest and creamiest gratin savoyard (a door-stopper of a portion of layered leeks, cheese and potato gratin).
After our mains were cleared away, we were presented with a dense plank of oozing honeycomb and dainty spoons to “help ourselves” (not the most Covid-friendly activity, but delicious nonetheless). Dessert was a lavender honey crème brûlée which came charred to perfection and the Hive signature dish: a “hive” of ice cream within a solid chocolate shell, with contrastingly bitter pear and ginger chunks, as well as sprinkles of bee pollen.
This was a lot of action for my not-so-sweet tooth – so when a surprise honey-tasting set landed on our table to round off our dinner, I sadly couldn’t make the most of it.
Our evening didn’t end at Hive; after our meal we headed downstairs for a screening of the Ryan Reynolds action-comedy Free Guy at The Cinema at Selfridges. The three screens of this plush boutique cinema, apparently the world’s first permanent department store cinema, feature state-of-the-art surround sound and lavish reclining seats.
Full disclosure: I did nod off a couple of times, but I blame my enormous, honey-heavy dinner, killer cocktails, dangerously cosy seat and the entire bag of fancy Maize & Grace Cheese and Jalapeño popcorn I miraculously found space for.
Hive at Selfridges, 400 Oxford St, London W1A 1AB, hiverestaurant.uk