A quick restaurant round-up - one new & two old in Soho, Clapham and Notting Hill.
Saturday 17th May - The Palomar arrived in Soho in May, bringing the food of modern day Jerusalem to London. The Palomar is the creation of Layo and Zoe Paskin, siblings behind The End/AKA and the Chefs, Assaf Granit, Yossi Elad and Uri Navon, from Jerusalem's most celebrated restaurant, Machneyuda.
As soon as it opened, Palomar was buzzing with queues building out of the door. For the best experience, you need to go in a small group and get seats in front of the entertaining & loud chefs, though you might get bumped in to a fair amount as the counter seating is part of a very thin corridor. As there were 6 of us, we were seated in the rear of the restaurant, where the atmosphere wasn't quite as fun, though a skylight was appreciated and the eclectic funk soundtrack kept us amused!
We started with cutely presented Kubaneh - Yemeni pot-baked bread served with tahini & velvet tomatoes in little buckets, a promising start.
|Kebaneh - Yemeni pot baked bread|
We ordered 6 dishes from the Raw Bar including a wonderful plate of Kubenia (hand chopped beef fillet with bulgur, tahini, herbs & pine nuts) and a delicious Tunisian fried bun with gilt head bream, cured lemon, potatoes, capers and a quail's egg. The Pulpo a La Papi with Mulukhiya leaves, spinach, chickpea, yoghurt & chilli, and Landing Catch Raw Fish "Uri Style" with cured onion & ginger vinaigrette also impressed. The Daily 6 assorted mezze was messily served in tiny pots that even one person would have struggled to appreciate, let alone six.
On to the Stove, Josper, Plancha section, seven more dishes started to pile up on the table. Getting a little taster of everything makes it hard to comment in depth but flavours were bursting out of every plate. I think I might just come here on my own next time. Here are our individual picks:
Lauren - Polenta Jerusalem Style with asparagus, mushroom ragout, parmesan and truffle oil.
Maggie - Pork Belly Tagine with Ras el Hanout (Batman's nemesis?), dried apricots & Israeli couscous
May - Sea Bass Fillet with braised cauliflower, cardamom crispy potatoes & citrus vinaigrette
Felix - Shakshukit - deconstructed kebab with yoghurt, tahini, "The Four Tops" and pita croutons
Taro - Onglet Steak with latkes, spring onions & a fried Clarence Court egg
Me - Seared Scallops with cured lemon beurre blanc, kale over easy, Jerusalem artichoke & hazelnut tuille
Oh yeah, and the Buttermilk Chicken wasn't half bad either.
|Seared scallops with a hazelnut tuille|
|Buttermilk chicken w/ baby carrots|
|Shakshukit - deconstructed kebab with laffa bread|
|Sea bass fillet with braised cauliflower|
Finally, we ordered all 3 desserts on the menu to share. Tahini Ice Cream (with date syrup, whipped cream, fresh figs & filo delight), Malabi (Rose scented milk pudding, raspberry cream, coconut pistachio meringue crunch, fresh raspberries and candied rose petals) and Basboussa (semolina cake, frozen yoghurt, orange syrup, ground walnut brittle & bergamot tuille) made their way over.
Whilst I'm not a huge fan of figs, rose or orange in my puddings, I was perfectly content with Palomar's attractive creations, though some more options wouldn't go amiss.
Cocktails were a bit hit & miss, so beer & wine might be a more sensible option. Go with your friends (if they insist on coming!), but try to get a table in front of the chefs and keep those small plates to yourself!
Thursday 22nd May - Polling stations & UKIP fans knocked my day job out of action, so I hastily arranged a lunch with parentals, opting for The Dairy - Clapham Common's highly rated bar & bistro.
Whilst we perused the mouth-watering £25 4-course lunch menu, a trio of dehydrated potato crisps with sorrel emulsion appeared. Their menu changes depending on the season and what they can pluck from their urban rooftop garden. This gives me the perfect excuse to go back quarterly for quality control purposes. A £45 tasting menu is also available, which Leyla of The Cutlery Chronicles assures me is fantastic.
|Dehydrated Potato Crisp w/ sorrel emulsion|
The next freebie to arrive was a freshly baked loaf of moreish sourdough, snugly hiding in a warm hat (these are starting to crop up everywhere), accompanied by bone marrow butter hanging out on a rock - it's a good thing they didn't keep refilling it.
|Bone marrow butter & sourdough bread|
The £25 menu gets you one dish from Snack, Garden, Sea or Land, and Sweet. We all started with the same Snack dish, a tasty bowl of squid tagliatelle with pickled and fresh fennel, octopus consomme and dill which required a spoon for all the leftover juices.
Garden was possibly my favourite section, with all three inventive plates no doubt making heavy use of their private allotment. For me, the rooftop carrots, goats cheese, oat granola & buttermilk stole the show. I'm fully expecting Mum The List to roll this one out next time I pop home.
|Broad beans, smoked ricotta, nettles, house lardo, whey|
|Fresh peas, garden mint, celery|
|Roof top carrots, goats cheese, oat granola, buttermilk|
On to Land or Sea - 3 more beautifully presented dishes on pleasing stone plates arrived. My smoked hanger steak tartare with soft yolk and butternut squash was another success, but Lake District lamb rump with broccoli, anchovy and capers just edged it. "Willy's" mackerel, Swiss chard, bonito butter wasn't far behind in third place. The Dairy was on a roll.
|Smoked hanger steak tartare, soft yolk, butternut squash|
|"Willy's" mackerel, Swiss chard, bonito butter|
We had to order all three desserts and plenty of sharing went on. Dad The List possibly had the pick of the bunch with Rooftop beeswax custard, pear & Earl Grey ice cream, though my Salted caramel, cacao and malted barley ice cream put up a good fight. Gariguette strawberries with toasted oats and Jersey milk ice cream was the least interesting, but it was livened up by an oat milkshake.
|A trio of desserts including beeswax custard, malted barley ice cream & gariguette strawberries|
As we were paying up, a delightful box of petits fours arrived with warm hibiscus doughnuts, shortbread and apple jellies. Totally unnecessary but so good. Fingers crossed my next visit is with 9 people allergic to hibiscus. Get in touch.
|Petits fours - Hibiscus doughnuts, apple jellies & shortbread|
Fay Maschler recently commented that anyone waiting for a table at Simon Rogan's Fera would be much better off foraging for high quality hand-crafted food at The Dairy. At a quarter of the price, there's really no argument to be had. I have been thinking about my rooftop carrots ever since I left, and a return visit (possibly for the £45 menu) is unavoidable. If there's a better lunch deal out there in London (Hereford Road?), I haven't found it yet. Hooray for The Dairy!
P.S. They have some top London bottled beers behind the bar from the likes of Beavertown, Pressure Drop & Kernel, tempting £8 cocktails, a hefty wine list, and a cracking bar snacks menu.
Thursday 15th May - Little did I know when I started blogging, I would end up spending almost as much time in "post-production" as writing, linking to the likes of Square Meal & Urban Spoon, posting on Triptease, uploading photos to Instagram & Pinterest, and spreading the word on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.
Obviously this wasn't quite enough, so I started putting up some little bits on Zomato too, and very quickly got hooked by their whole leaderboard thing (you know I like lists & points). It's also one good looking little website too - take a look around.
Anyway, Zomato are a friendly bunch who look after their own and they generously invited several of us gluttonous types along to Notting Hill Kitchen for an evening of Iberian tapas and wine. After a quick drink in the bar area (where pintxos are available), we moved in to the main restaurant.
First out of the blocks was Spider Crab Mousse in a doughnut with dehydrated mussels. It definitely wasn't a doughnut, but that didn't matter - very tasty indeed. This was joined on the table by curvaceous Tiborna alentejana - Pata Negra, bone marrow, cured papada, toasted sourdough, truffled yolk.
|Spider Crab Mousse in a "doughnut" with dehydrated mussels|
|Tiborna alentejana - Pata Negra, bone marrow, cured papada, toasted sourdough, truffled yolk|
Two more excellent dishes followed - Mac Silva, a delicious mini cod burger, and Sea Bass Ceviche with Peruvian aji Amarillo mild chilli, fennel, corn, tomato, coriander and lime.
|Mac Silva - Mini cod burger|
|Sea Bass Ceviche|
Jamon Croquetas started piling up, which were enjoyable, but I wouldn't have guessed that they involved beetroot & parsley viennoise, lemon and caramelised shallots.
There was a pause for breath before a substantial portion of Acorn fed pork neck emerged with Chef Yossi's red cabbage, lentils and lupin cous cous. The red cabbage stole the show, doing its best impression of beetroot.
|Acorn fed pork neck|
Two less interesting smaller plates joined the pork neck - Asparagus & Tomato with saffron risotto and Patatas Bravas (triple fried chips with spicy mayonnaise and paprika) which always struggle to impress me. Copa de Cava once managed it by serving it a bizarre cylindrical puréed fashion!
|Asparagus & Tomato with saffron risotto|
|Patatas Bravas (triple fried chips with spicy mayonnaise and paprika|
Before the final sweet plate arrived we grabbed the barman for a couple of cocktails. My Pineapple & Lavender Margarita went down easily enough, and Leyla gave her Honey & Thyme Whisky Sour the thumbs up. The base spirits used weren't overly exciting, but they were well made & presented.
|Pineapple & Lavender Margarita|
|Honey & Thyme Whisky Sour|
We finished off with a palate cleansing celebration of citrus, and some digestif shots of Gijinha which reminded me too much of Syrup of Figs!
Notting Hill Kitchen produced several impressive dishes that I would certainly order again (Crab Mousse and Mac Silva in particular) and there are plenty more enticing dishes on the menu that I didn't sample on this occasion - well worth a look, though be prepared for Notting Hill prices!
P.S. The Dairy was my favourite.
It's even made onto The Best section. Twice.
Don't forget to like Matt the Face!
Matt The Wishlist - Lyle's / Lockhart / Typing Room / Clove Club / Upstairs at Ten Bells
Matt The Wishlist - Lyle's / Lockhart / Typing Room / Clove Club / Upstairs at Ten Bells