Humo, a wood-fired culinary concept in Mayfair, is surely the hottest new opening in the capital. Head chef Miller Prada has no gas or electricity – instead, he cooks over a four-metre-long wood-fired grill. With a menu divided into four categories ‘Ignite’, ‘Smoke’, ‘Flame’, ‘Embers’ – which sees exquisite British ingredients grilled over woods including juniper, cherry and apple to impart flavour – here’s why Humo is our restaurant of the week.
Ever since Ralph Fiennes’ restaurant went up in flames in The Menu and René Redzepi announced the closure of Noma, one question has been preoccupying me: where does fine-dining go from here? I may have found an answer at Humo, the new wood-fired culinary concept in Mayfair.
Humo, meaning smoke in Spanish, comes from the Creative Restaurant Group, a new partnership between Endo Katzutoshi of Endo at The Rotunda and restaurateur Misha Zelman of Goodman fame. Its chef is Katzutoshi protégé, Miller Prada. The dining room, no longer recognisable as Wild Honey, centres around a four-metre-long wood-fired grill, over which Prada cooks everything. He has no electricity, no gas, just different woods such as juniper, cherry, birch, and apple to impart flavour.
The menu is divided into four categories – ‘Ignite’, ‘Smoke’, ‘Flame’, ‘Embers’; geographically, it’s hard to pin down. Prada is from Colombia, his head chef from Italy, and we eat mostly Japanese-style with slender silver-tipped chopsticks. The ingredients, however, are the British Isles’ best, including Chalk Stream trout, Scottish langoustines, and Cornish lamb.
The first course is the closest we get to caveman cooking: a snack of Lancashire chicken thigh, blackened and blistered and speared on pine twigs. It’s superb. Thereafter, the cuisine is as precise and refined as it gets, giving the lie to the notion that real fire cookery is somehow primitive. The level of nerdery involved is astounding, down to ageing times, temperatures, and the types of wood (AB55 whisky barrels, HR2 applewood, CM13 silver birch…it’s arcane knowledge).
We have ike jime trout from Hampshire, served almost sashimi-style, aged for 14 days, seared with HP18 oak, then dotted with Baerii caviar, itself aged for three months, and grilled in kombu kelp. Or the Scottish langoustines, grilled one single kiss of smoke past raw, with a garnish of seaweed flatbreads anointed with a sauce of the brains.
The biggest treat is the 7-day-aged Brixham turbot, a luxury actually outclassed by the garnish of fat morels, grilled and glazed with egg yolk sauce. It’s hard to believe that cuisine this ‘haute’ can be produced on such a mediaeval-looking contraption. I recommend the seats at the counter if you want to watch the chefs at work.
Fine food calls for fine wine and Humo’s wine list delivers both classical and fashionable bottles. Bordeaux and Burgundy are well represented, though you’ll find sakes, sparkling wines, and cocktails to complement the smoke.