SquareMeal Review of Oren
Middle Eastern food is undergoing a revolution in London. With a focus on getting the best out of ingredients, using cheap but flavourful cuts of meat and with top-quality vegetarian options, it’s not hard not to see the appeal of this fresh and healthy style of cooking. The latest restaurant to join the party is Oren, the debut restaurant of Israeli-born chef Oded Oren, who has previously hosted successful kitchen residencies in the capital and here offers a selection of seasonally changing sharing plates with an eastern Mediterranean accent.
Blink and you’ll miss Oren’s low-key site on Dalston’s Shacklewell Lane; once inside, the 30-cover space is equally understated, with simple whitewashed tables hugging the muted grey walls and a well-stocked bar lighting up the far end of the room. It’s the perfect setting to get cosy and enjoy the brilliant food.
The regularly changing menu may require the odd google or question to the friendly waiters but that’s all part of the fun. We particularly loved the ‘Jerusalem mixed grill’, which comes in the form of something resembling gyros; fluffy pitta bread is stuffed full of melt-in-the-mouth offal and covered with tahini and sharp pickled mango. It’s worth visiting Oren for this one dish alone.
Elsewhere, there are soft pillows of baked flatbread to mop up zingy tomato salsa, and slow-cooked ox cheek placed alongside a generous dollop of nutty hummus – the shiny glazed meat falls apart as soon as your fork touches it. If you haven’t entered a food coma, the short dessert menu is worth sampling for the quenelle of rich, dark chocolate mousse.
Drinks range from skilfully made cocktails including a top notch Negroni, to an impressive low intervention wine list over seen by wine guru Zeren Wilson.
You will leave Oren feeling like you’ve escaped London for an evening with not too big a hole in your wallet – no mean feat for a new restaurant.
Found in Dalston, Oren is the debut London restaurant from chef Oded Oren, who has previously hosted successful kitchen residencies in the capital.
Oren’s eponymous restaurant sits on the site which was previously occupied by contemporary European bistro Floyd’s, and serves a menu that is inspired by the Mediterranean. The restaurant serves lunch and dinner as well as brunch on the weekends, with the menu consisting of a selection of seasonally changing sharing plates with a Mediterranean accent.
Dishes you might find on your visit include the likes of lamb sweetbreads with za’atar and lemon, ox cheek with hummus, and roast quail with Baharat and green harissa. The food is accompanied by a wine list which has been curated by Zeren Wilson, a food writer and wine consultant. Wilson has plenty of experience to draw on, having helped curate the wine lists for London big hitters including Thai restaurants Kiln and Smoking Goat, as well as My Neighbours The Dumplings in Clapton and Sambal Shiok in Islington.
Although this is chef Oren’s debut restaurant in the capital, he is no stranger to London’s restaurant kitchens. The Israeli-born chef moved to the UK in 2011, eventually becoming head chef at Louie Louie in Southwark, a café by day and restaurant/bar by night which serves European small plates. In 2018, Oren hosted a temporary residency at Borough Wines in Kensal Rise, which was well received by critics and punters.
In recent years, Dalston has become somewhat of a foodie destination, being home to popular restaurants such as yakitori spot Jidori, pickling and fermentation experts Little Duck: The Picklery and fried chicken sandwich purveyors Chick ‘n’ Sours.
Speaking about the opening, Oren said: “I will cook food that is inspired from my home and the Mediterranean using local and sustainable produce alongside a thoughtful wine list.”