This week, Yummy Jubbly went a little upmarket and took a trip to the award-winning Palomar.
Having opened in the Summer of 2014, Palomar won 5 different awards in 2015 alone. Of all the reviews you’ll find of Palomar, there’s hardly a negative word said. So of course we had to try it out for ourselves. The first hurdle, was booking a table 3 weeks ahead. Yes that’s right, we had to book 3 weeks ahead for a table! That goes to show just how popular Palomar is.
Whenever we’ve walked past Palomar, it’s always been packed busy. On the Monday night that we went, it was no different. When you look into Palomar from the outside, it looks likes a busy bar. Why? Because the kitchen is at the front and there’s a bar table surrounding it. If you’re lucky, you can get one of these seats watching the chefs busy preparing your meal and have a chat with them too! Otherwise, after you’ve shuffled past those lucky few at the bar seats, you enter the back dining area. This wasn’t too bad to be honest – there’s comfy leather seats, big round wooden tables and retro looking mirrors on the wall. Which gives you that steakhouse feel from back in the days. We were lucky and got to sit under the skylight so there was loads of natural light for us to enjoy our meal.
The best way to describe the food at the Palomar is: tapas, modern Jerusalem style. Why? Because most of the items on the menu are little sharing plates. Based on what we ate, they all compliment each other and you’ll be amazed at how many different combinations you can form with the plates you ordered.
The founders of The Palomar are a mix from London and Jerusalem so you know you’re getting the best from both worlds in one place. Everybody in the Palomar team are passionate about what they do. Be it the director siblings who had the idea of bringing Jerusalem to London, or the chefs with already established restaurants in Jerusalem. They have one common goal – give the best to the customer, from the food to the service.
To kick start our meal, we had a number of small plates:
Kubaneh (£6.00) – this is a loaf of Yemeni bread baked in a pot and it’s served with a tahini and a tomato dip. The texture of the bread is like a dry crispy brioche, minus the sweetness. It was a really good texture for dipping and we absolutely loved it with the tahini, not so much with the tomato dip though (which was a bit like a cold tomato soup). The kubaneh was also good for dipping into the other plates we ordered, so it was understandable why it’s so highly recommended.
The Spicy Experience (£3.50) – this is a must order for you spicy fans! As the name suggests, it’s a small plate of different kinds of spices: josperised chillies, harissa, schug & pickled shifkeh peppers. It might not seem like much, but the flavours of each are super powerful. Add a dash of these onto your kubaneh dipped into the polenta, or take a bite of the peppers with the shakshukit and you’ll be thanking us for the recommendation!
Polenta Jerusalem Style (£9.50) – hands down, the best polenta. Ever. If you like polenta, you need to order this. If you don’t like polenta, you should still order this! Creamy polenta with truffle, mushroom ragout, tender asparagus and topped with a generous shaving of parmesan. When it arrived, we could smell the truffle and were worried it’d be too overpowering. But when we came to eat it, the truffle flavour was just enough to compliment all the other flavours. It was so good we were fighting over it!
Fattoush Salad (£8.50) – a simple salad of tomato and cucumber with not so simple flavours! Seasoned with za’atar, sumac, massive chunkcs of pita croutons and brazil nuts, the salad is presented sitting on a layer of creamy homemade labneh. Eating this salad is like transporting yourself into the Middle East.
Shakshukit (£12.00) – described as a deconstructed kebab. Layered minced meat, yoghurt, tahini, “The 4 tops” (which we think are the drizzles of different toppings) and Yaeli’s pita. This is said to be Palomar’s signature dish. Not sure we agree with this statement, the shakshukit was tasty but was a little on the salty side. It’s also quite pricey considering the portion side. We also thought the kubaneh was a much better option to dip into the minced meat than the pita.
All of the small plates we had were good individually, but when mixed up together they were even better. We could really tell that the menu had been well thought out and cleverly created.
Onto our mains:
Pork Belly Tajine (£17.00) – this is probably not a dish you’d see in a Jewish restaurant. But that’s what makes Palomar different and unique. A super tender pork belly (with all the lovely fatty bits intact) with Ras el Hanout, dried apricots, dried fig and Israeli couscous (giant cous cous). The moment we cut into this piece of pork, we knew it was going to be yummy. The way the pork crumbled with hardly any effort in slicing it was just mesmerising. There’s a reason why this is one of the most popular dishes on the menu. The apricot and fig added sweetness to the dish, and balanced well with the saltiness of the meat. The cous cous was also spiced up and soaked up all the juices from the pork belly – yum!
Fish of the day (£18.00) – the fish we had that day was cod. The cod was thickly cut and cooked perfectly – crispy skin and moist flesh. It was served in a Moroccan Chreymeh stew, with octopus pieces and a slice of challah bread. The stew itself was a little disappointing and was like a thin tomato sauce. The piece of challah bread was also a little too salty for our liking. Surprisingly though, the octopus was really good as the tentacles were tender, yet still had a bit of a bite to them.
Of course, no meal is finished until we’ve had desserts, and with dessert menu titled like this we just couldn’t say no:
We opted for the following:
Carrot Cake (£7.00) – this was said to be a must try if we went to Palomar. The carrot cake itself was pretty traditional, having all the usual flavours (mixed spice, cinnamon, ginger). The presentation of it wasn’t so traditional though – raisins, coconut foam, butternut squash marmalade, walnut brittle and candied lime zest. The best part of this dish was the coconut foam, which was best eaten on its own – it was like having coconut cream (so heavenly!). We say this because the flavours of the cake itself was overpowering, so this dessert overall was a little disappointing considering it was costing us £7.00. If Palomar had a serving of the coconut foam on it’s own in the menu then that’d be great!
Jerusalem Mess (£11.00) – this is a sharing dessert and is recommended for 2 people. In our opinion, this is THE MUST HAVE! If you order this, expect to fight over the plate, because it’s that good. If you know what an Eton Mess is, then this is the Jewish equivalent – labneh mousse, almond crumble, strawberries, lemon cream, elderflower and apple jelly & fresh sorrel (although we’re pretty sure we got basil instead). The creamy mousse had a very subtle sweetness to it. The lemon and strawberry cream was like a really sharp coulis and added the zing to this dessert. The surprise though were the basil leaves we had – who would’ve thought a herb normally used for savoury dishes could work so well with a dessert? Sounds so wrong, but tasted so good! We’d highly recommend you order this if you pay the Palomar a visit!
We needed to settle our stomachs with all that food, so we chilled out with some tea and coffee. If you love your coffee then you’ll love the Turkish coffee (£3.00) – which was super bitter. It’s definitely not for those who are used to the sugary coffees from the high street chains! We thought the waitress made a mistake by giving us an extra glass of tap water, but it actually turned out to be rose water. How clever and thoughtful – they know you’d be left feeling a little dry after having that strong coffee so they give you a glass of rose water to balance out all the flavours.
As you can tell, we ate a lot of food and were pretty stuffed at the end of the meal. It was definitely worth the wait and booking 3 weeks ahead for a table. So we’re going to give Palomar 4.5 yums – because the Fish dish and the Carrot Cake were a little disappointing for our liking. Our suggestion would be to go as a small group of 3 – 4 people, that way you get to try more dishes (especially that Jerusalem Mess!). When we go back, because this certainly won’t be our last visit, we’ll be sure to try and grab a table at the kitchen bar too.
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 12pm – 2:30pm, 5:30pm – 11:30pm, Sunday 12pm – 3:30pm
Address: 34 Rupert Street, Chinatown, London, W1D 6DN