What can you tell me about The Palomar?
The chaps behind Machneyuda - one of Jerusalem's coolest restaurants have come to London to help one of their number - Tomer Amedi - set up restaurant in the UK. It's their first venture outside Israel so they've teamed up with Layo and Zoe Paskin, the siblings behind The End and AKA to launch The Palomar.
Where is it?
On the lower end of Rupert Street, just below Shaftesbury Avenue.
Where should we meet friends beforehand?
Why not do as we did and meet for a quick drink in Cafe Zedel which is a few minutes walk away?
Where should we sit?
This is a no-brainer. If you want to fully experience the energy here you'll want to sit at the bar, which means dining on your own or a deux. The only problem is that the counter doesn't take reservations. So if there's a larger group of you or you're not one for queueing, then book in the small dining room at the back. It's perfectly nice - just nowhere near as much fun as the counter.
What sort of food is it?
They describe the menu as food from Jerusalem with influences from Southern Spain and Italy, North Africa through to the Levant. In practice what this means is that unless you know a lot about this region there's going to be a lot on the menu you've not the slightest idea about.
So talk us through the menu then
The menu starts with a section of nishnushim - olives, mini polenta and kubaneh - gorgeous Yemeni pot-baked bread that's served up with little dips of yoghurt and grated tomato. Try not to stuff your face on this - although that's easier said than done.
Then there's a section called the Daily 6 - which is six assorted mezze of tiny plates that would be a great introduction for your first visit here.
Following this your choice is from the Raw Bar section and the hot stuff - aka Stove, Josper and Plancha. We ate an unseemly amount of the menu and from what we had, we'd particularly recommend:
- Josper aubergine (from the Daily 6)
- Gilted sea bream Fricassée Tunisian fried bun with gilted sea bream, cured lemon, potato, capers & quail’s egg (hard to share) £8.50
- Pork belly tajine With Ras el Hanout, dried apricots & Israeli couscous £12 Moroccan Oysters served with coriander, lemon zest and tiny hot dots of Arisa oil
- And - definitely - although perhaps the least unusual dish of the night was their signature comfort dish - a kilner jar layered with soft polenta Jerusalem-style, asparagus, mushroom ragout, parmesan and truffle oil (£8.50).
How about wine and cocktails?
There's a short cocktail list. Of the two we tried, the winner was definitely the Garden of Eden (£8) and the list ranges in price from £6.50 to £8.
A brief wine list - 9 reds and 9 whites is very well priced - a glass starts at £3.50 for something like Montepulciano with four whites and five reds under the £30 mark. It's a mostly European list with a few New World wines but nothing from Israel which seems like a missed opportunity.
You'd have to be missing a pulse not to be engaged by the crazy energy of Palomar. Sure there's a little bit of hokey-ness in the whole brigade yelling 'Yes Chef!' at regular intervals but we loved the good-natured ribbing we saw. There's a hugely creative streak running through the menu, which extends to the innovative ways in which many of the dishes are served - you'll see what we mean when you go.
Despite having tried lots of the menu, there's still plenty we want to go back and try right now. Only problem is, getting a seat at the counter here is going to be nigh impossible once word gets out...
The Palomar is at 34 Rupert St, London W1D 6DN. Find out more about The Palomar.
Prices were correct at the time of writing. Hot Dinners ate as guests of The Palomar.