Based on Rupert Street in Soho, The Palomar is a restaurant that specialises in ‘the food of modern day Jerusalem’. Even though it’s only just opened, I don’t know anybody that hasn’t loved it so I went with high hopes and I wasn’t disappointed – hoorah!
As they don’t take reservations at the long counter which overlooks the kitchen, on our busy Friday night visit we were told of an hour wait, but we could wander off for a drink and return once they’d rung which was good. We arrived back to a packed restaurant with a brilliant atmosphere – it’s got to be one of the most exciting places to sit and eat your supper in London at the minute. At one point a chef picked up some drum sticks and started banging on the pots and pans (impressively well might I add) to Happy by Pharell Williams – everyone looked like they were having so much fun.
We started with some Kubaneh (£5) which was Yemeni pot baked bread and it was served with tahini and ‘velvet tomatoes’ which was like a tomato gazpacho. The bread was soft like brioche and utterly divine.
The Kubenia (£8.50), which was a beef tartare, was served with pomegranate seeds; a really unusual but wholly pleasant companion for the chunks of raw beef fillet. The lemony oil that surrounded it was so good we kept the plate so we could use more bread to soak it up.
The oysters (two for £6), served with coriander, lemon zest and arissa oil, were prepared in the raw bar directly behind us – it was fun being able to see the chefs prepare it all. I must say, I’ve never had oysters quite like them; so rich and creamy.
The shakshukit (£9.50) was described as a deconstructed kebab which set alarm bells off – deconstructed anythings are usually crap, mainly because they don’t taste better than the real thing. This wasn’t the case here however; the beef mince was topped with four vibrantly colourful sauces which blended together deliciously. It was all served alongside a mini pitta – these guys seriously know how to make bread.
Next was the Labenah tortellini (£11). The pasta parcels were light and delicate and the butternut squash cream that lay beneath them had the perfect balance of sweetness. The onglet steak (£14) was served on a wooden board with a knife sticking out of it which was a nice touch. The homemade latkes with the gooey fried egg (Clarence Court of course) made for the most perfect of mouthfuls.
By this point we were full but enjoying ourselves so much we decided to order one more dish; the cornfed chicken (£13). The chicken had been cooked in buttermilk making it really moist and tender and the sauce, as we found with most of the dishes beforehand, was phenomenally good.
Everything about The Palomar was just so right; the design and layout, the friendly and helpful staff, the food – even the playlist was spot on, which might be due to the fact one of the owners used to be a DJ. Perhaps we wouldn’t have enjoyed ourselves quite so much if we’d been sitting in the small dining room out the back (which does take reservations) as it seemed to lack the fun of the counter. If you ask me, turn up and put your name down, you’re in for a treat!