Ever since The Palomar Restaurant opened a few months ago, I’ve only heard good things. The reviews have rarely had a negative point. Even the uber-critical AA Gill loved it. They’ve got to be doing something right.
I’d been trying – and failing – to reserve a table for weeks, but Open Table was not letting me get my way. Then I found out that the best places to sit was un-bookable anyway – the Kitchen Bar. You just had to try your luck and arrive early, put your name down on the list and wait. And so we did.
It’s a good system: they will take your name and number, give you an estimated waiting time (40 mins in our case) and let you go off into Soho for a drink. So you don’t have to wait, cramped and awkward, behind those lucky ones eating plates of aubergines and tajine. You can just pop to one of Soho’s many bars (if you want a close one, go for the Asian ‘Spice Market’
– it’s pretty pricey and nondescript, but it’s easy and there is always space at the bar for a drink). Having said that, he Palomar has a pretty great selection of drinks too, if you do decide to stay.
The staff at the Palomar are remarkably welcoming. This place is not one to come to for a quiet dinner or a serious conversation. But if you’re down, they’ll make you happy. Tomer, the Head Chef from Jerusalem, is heard above all the music/chefs’ banter/murmur of conversation. He is a special character: cheerful, enthusiastic and, most importantly of course, a seriously good chef.
And while they’re turning over tables at top speed, the chefs all seem completely under control, enjoying rather than stressing, laughing rather than yelling. It’s infectious. jhj
So let’s talk about the food. It is truly amazing. They describe it as ‘modern food from Jerusalem’, with flavours from Northern Africa, Spain and the Levant. It’s my type of food. Healthy, but filling. Lots of flavours without overpowering. And the house wine was delicious too.
Definitely choose ‘the Daily 6’ (assorted mezze) to start. The perfect introduction to the Middle Eastern kitchen. Expect lots of grilled aubergine and heavenly tahini sauces (and order their ‘Kubaneh’ (Yemini pot baked bread) as an accompaniment – so fresh and fluffy and perfect for dipping). Their Polenta is raved about, and, despite it containing mushrooms (I hate mushrooms), the raving was well deserved. Then again, adding truffle oil to anything wins brownie points from me. jhjk
Mains: the deconstructed kebab (‘Shakshukit’) was my choice. You can’t not want to try a dish with a name like that. The portion, served with a pita, was generous. Lamb mince with all the delicious sauces you can only dream of when heading home after a night of clubbing. Except this one was sophisticated. Rob opted for the Persian Oxtail Stew. It was beautifully cooked, the meat fell off the bone and I loved the couscous and herbs it was cooked with. Tomer, the head chef, saw Rob practically lick his plate clean, and so grilled a piece of bread and handed it to Rob to mop up the last morsels of sauce. It doesn’t get much better than that.
We finished with two espressos and two tequilas (why not?). This place puts you in the mood to party, and being in Soho you’re in a great location to continue your evening (we headed to Basement Sate and La Bodegra Negro for more drinks).
In short, this place is a gem. Don’t bother waiting to get a table booking. Just rock up at 6:30pm and put your name on the list. Enjoy.
34 Rupert Street
London W1D 6DN