Siblings Leo and Zoe Paskin have opened two slick follow-ups (The Barbary and Evelyn’s Table) to their original West End smash hit, but The Palomar remains the most compelling. It is a thrilling taste of melting-pot Jerusalem transplanted to London’s Chinatown, its exotic foreignness totally at home among the windows of barbecued duck and bubble tea.
Solo diners and couples sit up front at the counter, and though tables for four can be accommodated in the back room, to miss out on the open kitchen action is to forego the soul of this extraordinary restaurant. Familiar Middle Eastern staples are refined and re-invented by a small troupe of “passionate” chefs who can also turn their hand to mixing a mean cocktail.
Order a portion of cake-like kubaneh bread while perusing the menu and save some of the accompanying tahini and tomato sauce for the delights to come: the signature shashlik kebab offsets succulent minced beef and lamb with pistachios and pine nuts, while tender Josper-grilled chicken sits atop a bed of black rice hiding raisins and pomegranate seeds.
It’s not all so richly savoury, though. Salads such as the house fattoush (tomatoes, cucumber and sumac) showcase ingredients at peak freshness and ripeness, while a malabi syrup pudding is remarkable for the clear hibiscus flavours shining through the sweetness. This is “skillful and delicate cooking”, notes a fan, “but it still feels fun and vibrant”.
Bookings, alas, are only taken for the less atmospheric back room or for the first seats at the bar when doors open, but with the Paskins’ pub and cocktail bar, The Blue Posts, a few steps away, at least there’s now somewhere comfortable to go and wait.