It’s not often that the food matches up to the hype in all the many new openings in London. The Palomar only opened three months ago and already it’s near-impossible to get a booking for a few plates of their stellar “modern Jerusalem” tapas. We finally managed to knab a table and it was definitely worth the wait.
The Palomar is based in the Chinatown side of Soho and boasts a combination of flavours and ingredients influenced by the Levant, Spain and North Africa. Headed up by Head Chef Tomer who came over from the sister restaurant in Tel Aviv, the result offers new and contemporary combinations of ingredients – all with vibrant colours and textures and inspiring flavour combinations. The atmosphere is buzzy and full of people instagramming their food – always a good sign. The tables are pretty packed together in the 40-cover area at the back, but it means that everyone is interested to see (and comment on) what your neighbours are ordering before you request 4 of the same for you!
It’s one of those “sharing plates” restaurants – which normally fill me with dread for fear of not ending up with enough food based on one forkful of each plate. The portions thankfully are generous and with a menu that makes you want to order every dish, we got over the No Share policy pretty quickly.
We started with the Kubaneh from the “Nishnushim” (small bites) menu, a sweet traditional Yemeni Jewish buttery-brioche-textured yeast bread baked in a pot over a low heat overnight for the Sabbath breakfast. It’s served with a labneh (yoghurt and olive oil) dip and a “velvet tomato” dip (like gazpacho). This was so delicious that it almost didn’t pass the No Share rule (it didn’t – I insisted on ordering two).
We then went for the Daily 6: six gorgeous little vegetarian mezze pots with ingredients including beetroot, roasted aubergine, lentils, tahini, pomegranates and goat’s cheese. I ordered a couple of oysters from the Raw Bar – the coriander, lemon zest and Arisa oil dressing was superb.
Next some salads – a favourite: Fattoush (tomato + cucumber elevated with salty sour goodness from the za’atar and sumac and crunch factor from the pita croutons) and the Spring salad – a crunchy mix of fennel, asparagus, kohlrabi and seeds with a feta dressing.
Finally from the Raw Bar, the Kubenia – a version of steak tartare but with bulgar wheat, tahini, herbs and pine nuts with a delicious creamy dressing.
From the range of hot dishes we ordered the Polenta Jerusalem style (a MUST), the Shakshukit (deconstructed kebab with yoghurt and tahini)…divine…
… The Mz’uz’im – Moroccan style sea bream with a wonderful fusion of fennel and orange and Jerusalem artichoke…
And finally the Lebaneh tortellini made with butternut squash cream and confit garlic. Told you there were a lot of ingredients!
We somehow managed to squeeze in a spoon each of the chocolate cremeux before rolling ourselves (literally – hedgehog style) out into Chinatown.
Bottom line – you must go and order as many dishes as you can stuff in your bellies. If you can’t get a table, there is a 16 seat bar that looks on to the kitchen and you can watch as they theatrically create perfect colourful dishes on quirky china plates.
We LOVED it – enjoy.