The Palomar

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Written by ANDRE JACKSON

With the myriad of new ‘must-visit’ restaurant openings in and around the Soho area on what seems like a weekly basis, you’d be forgiven for overlooking The Palomar, but it’d be a big mistake if you did. Brought to the UK by London-based DJ Layo Paskin, who created the much-missed club The End, it is a well-executed version of Israel’s hippest restaurant, Machneyuda.

Responsible for spearheading the fashion for serving Palestinian dishes in high-end Israeli restaurants, Machneyuda has become a key destination for visitors to the city over the past few years; a beacon of peace, offering the chance to share a common ground over the fusion of food cultures.

Paskin and his sister Zoe, the former manager of Hawksmoor Spitalfields, have ensured The Palomar’s authenticity by collaborating with chefs Assaf Granit, Yossi Elad, Uri Navon and Tomer Amedi from Machneyuda, the latter the head chef.

THE DÉCOR

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Found just behind the ailing Trocadero, I didn’t expect too much when we arrived outside The Palomar. But as we’re so often told, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. We entered into a bustling open kitchen, with a 16-seater zinc-topped bar, packed with people watching the chefs working away theatrically — and with another marble ‘raw bar’ opposite that, the class of The Palomar is instantly evident. These seats are probably the most desirable for the sheer novelty and excitement they provide, but they cannot be reserved.

For those that would like to make a reservation there is a 35-seater dining room at the back of the restaurant boasting reclaimed parquet floo, dark oak panelled walls, banquette seating in royal blue leather, dark green matt table tops and Jasper Morrison Vitra chairs. The skylight is a nice touch, allowing plenty of natural night to flood into the dining area

THE MENU

The Palomar’s menu is a delightful collection of what is best described as ‘Israeli tapas’, offering a vast array of dishes that even the most hardened London foodie may fail to identify. This offered an exciting chance to try a variety of intriguing dishes with some really interesting flvour combinations.

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The signature dish, and the one thing that absolutely everybody should try is polenta Jerusalem-style (£5), served in a Kilner jar. It’s a truly outstanding, insanely rich dish — so far from being a staple carb as it is in northern Italy. It complements the equally rich mushroom ragoût, soft-cooked asparagus, Parmesan and lashings of truffle oil that it’s garnished with giving it a powerful nutty aroma.

Modern takes on traditional Middle Eastern dishes include fattoush salad served with homemade labneh (yoghurt) (£8), the wonderfully tasty kubenia beef fillet, sered with bulgur and tahini (£8) and shakhshukit, a deconstructed kebab with minced meat, yoghurt, tahini, ‘The 4 tops’, and pita croutons (£8).

Despite the restaurant’s Israeli roots, it’s not kosher. Seafood, such as an octopus tentacle, served Spanish tapas-style with chickpeas, spinach, mallow leaves, yogurt and a kick of chilli (£10), as well as dairy and pork, are all present on the menu, displaying The Palomar’s willingness to cater for non-Jewish visitors.

Having been lucky enough to try most of the starters, and feeling already impressed, the main courses really stole the show. Onglet steak (£13.50) is a lovely, succulent cut, and served with latkes (potato rösti), and a fried egg draped over it. The corn-fed buttermilk chicken shows all of the trendy new ‘nice fast food’ places how to really do fried chicken; succulent and bursting with flavour.

THE DRINK

To accompany the food, a well-chosen Old and New world wine list is reasonably priced, with the majority of wines between £20 and £30 and many available by the glass, carafe or bottle. The cocktails are interesting, too, and are as well thought out as the food menu. Reasonably priced from £6.50 to £8, The Palomar offers some great twists on old classics and the menu offers a nice amount of detail for each drink to help those not that well versed in cocktail culture to make their decisions. Their signature cocktail, Palomar (£7.50), a refreshing mix of tequila, grapefruit, lime juice and bitters, is particularly nice.

THE SERVICE

The convivial feel of The Palomar is evident from the second you walk through the door. It has quite the friendly, inclusive feel as smiles greeted us like family members walking in the door for a celebratory meal, despite how busy it was. Once at our table we were given a wonderfully helpful walkthrough of the menu, complete with dish combination recommendations and rather enticing descriptions of what some of the more unconventional dishes would offer our tastebuds.

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The waiting staff at The Palomar strike the balance of always being available without constantly harassing, a lovely compliment to the laid back dining experience that the restaurant offers.

THE VERDICT

A refreshing and welcome addition to London’s burgeoning and occasionally-repetitive foodie culture. Having frequented a number of the similarly priced restaurants in the surrounding areas, I can safely say that The Palomar offers a genuinely unique experience. Equally as suitable for a quick lunch at the bar or a long, relaxed meal with a big group, allowing you to soak in the fun atmosphere and share the wealth of wonderful dishes that the restaurant offers. It’s a positive experience for those of all tastes and palates. Shalom, The Palomar.

thepalomar.co.uk


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