Palomar

The latest in the recent wave of Jewish-inspired eateries, Palomar brings Middle Eastern cuisine to the heart of theatreland. This Soho newcomer has its roots in the trendy, high-end Jerusalem restaurant, Machneyuda, owned by London-based DJ Layo Paskin. Buzzy and young, it has made a name for itself by serving traditional Israeli dishes with international twists. Breaking down the barriers between Jewish and Arabic food, there’s no doubt that Palomar will become a key destination for London and foreign-based foodies alike.

Palomar kitchen bar.jpg

Like it’s sister restaurant, Palomar has a party vibe; its busy chefs down shots, sing and dance. It’s for this reason that the snaking queue for seats at the zinc-topped Kitchen Bar are definitely worth the wait. Whilst tables in the dining room can be booked in advance and certainly offer a smarter dining experience, the stools at the bar provide the ideal viewing platform for all the exhilarating and buzzing happenings of the kitchen. Clamorous, cramped and exciting, the chefs working that day have their names written up every service on the blackboard overlooking the bar and chat to diners. Best of all, they are willing to cater to the tastes of each diner, making at evening at Palmoar a truly bespoke and personal experience.

Like many current restaurants, Palomar offers a variety of small sharing dishes as well as mains . My companion and I were lucky enough to dine during the restaurant’s soft-launch. As a result, we were given tastings of their dishes including olives and bruschettas. The most original of these samples was the signature “Polenta Jerusalem style”. Served in a kilner jar, the creamy polenta – a staple ingredient of the northern Italian diet – was luxuriously decadent, the ideal counterpoint to the mushroom ragout, soft-cooked asparagus and Parmesan layered above. The whole dish was finished with lashings of truffle oil. Indeed so rich was the dish that the larger main (£8.50) or the starter version (£5) would have been overwhelming.

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Polenta Jerusalem Style

Choosing what to eat was very difficult. I certainly had food envy eyeing up a fellow diners’ Kubaneh (£4). A Yemeni Jewish yeast bread, the loaf is baked and served warm in a round pot. To be eaten alongside dipping pots of intensely flavoured “velvet tomato” puree and tahini, the bread resembled a light brioche. I’ll definitely order this on my next visit here. Whilst I was tempted by the Spring salad (£7), an clean assemblage of fresh fennel, asparagus, kohlrabi, sunflower and poppy seeds, feta and a vinaigrette, I was keen to sample the best of Palomar’s raw bar. I therefore ordered the “Daily 6” (£12) – what is described as “an assorted mezze from Jerusalem and beyond”.

This reasonably-priced and vegetarian-friendly dish was composed of an oily aubergine and chilli salad; perfectly al dente lentils garnished with hazelnuts, mint and yoghurt; kale and salty feta; more aubergine, this time slow-cooked and served with tahini and pomegranate seeds; and my favourite, candied beetroot with tangy goat’s cheese.

An evening at the Palomar is a thrilling experience. Providing cultural and culinary excitement, Palomar is a welcome culinary boost to the now well-trodden Soho scene and is certainly a more convenient option than a flight to Israel. For my next dose of Israeli foods, a visit to Finchley Road’s Zest is on the cards.

Palomar, 34 Rupert Street, London, W1D 6DN

Website: http://thepalomar.co.uk/

Rating: *****

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