When a restaurant gives recognition to its staff by putting their names on the menu, it’s very ethos makes it an establishment I want to visit. When the same restaurant hires one of the most adventurous and exuberant chefs I know and then aptly describe her as a ‘Jordanian Amy Winehouse’,it exhibits a relationship with it’s staff that should be upheld as an archetype business model. Which is why, before even trying the food at The Palomar, I know I am going to like it.
Inside, it is as if I have been transported back in time to a luxurious seventies casino. Playful spot lighting, walls clad in deep blue, leather upholstery and dark, mahogany tables form the back of house restaurant. The music is befitting of the energetic atmosphere and beyond the stylish fittings there is a feeling of American psychedelic, which is hard to pin point: nonetheless, I love it.
Out front at street view the long bar is a hub of activity, a culinary theatre, with lively, engaging onlookers. Here, the sound of music is outshone by the sound of laughter, conversation and movement. On the evening we visit my friend is working on the ‘Raw Bar’, a section in full view of the diners. She looks in her element, proud of the food that she is serving and alike to everyone else, feeding off the infectious atmosphere.
We are sat at a table in the corner of the restaurant, one that provides, depending on your disposition, the opportunity to people watch. To start we opt for two cocktails: the Palomar, a combination of tequila, pink grapefruit and lime and the Hibiscus Cooler, tequila, hibiscus sugar, lime and tonic water. Both have a delicious tartness and although it was unintentional for us to choose the same spirit, tequila seems an apt choice for our surroundings.
All of the dishes on Palomar’s menu are designed for sharing which is ideal and makes the agonizing choice of what to eat slightly easier- trust me you will want everything.
To start we are given a bulgar wheat salad topped with harissa and yoghurt. Beautifully seasoned, the combination of flavours awaken the palette leaving you in delicious anticipation of what is to come.
Next upon recommendation, we chose the Salmon Tartare with whipped sour cream, pomegranate, harissa and savoury Abadi cookie crumble. The salmon is absolutely incredible. Insanely fresh, it is cut into chunks which makes for a firmer and altogether nicer mouthfeel. The accompaniment of the savoury sesame biscuit is inspired.
We then go for the Kubaneh, a traditional Yemen pot baked bread served with tahini and tomato dip. Brought to the table in its pot, the bread is given theatricality in it’s unveiling, in the process making the diner appreciate the skill and effort that has gone into making it. On its own, the sweetness isn’t to my taste, however as a vessel for dipping the sweet, salty combo really comes into its own.
The Cauliflower Steak with cured lemon butter, homemade labneh and toasted almonds is one of our favourite dishes. Cooked in a Josper, a hybrid between a grill and an oven means that the cauliflower has an incredible charred exterior, whilst the inside is beautifully tender, having lost none of its moisture whilst cooking.
Another mind blower was the chopped Chicken Liver served on Yiddish Bruschetta which was hands down the best pate I have ever eaten. Unsure whether I was going to like the chopped liver, I was mistaken because it was superb.
For our ‘main’ we chose the Shakshukit a de-constructed kebab with yoghurt, tahini and pitta. It was great that Palomar had taken what is a family staple in most households, mince, and made it into something super indulgent.
Finally to accompany the Shakshukit we had the Truffle Polenta. Everyone I have spoken too about Palomar mentions this dish as one of their favourites and the smell of truffle when it arrives is quite extraordinary, however, pairing it with the mince was the wrong decision. Both dishes were so rich that we didn’t fully appreciate the polenta in its own right.
Eating at Palomar confirmed my preformed opinion that the restaurant would be excellent. It is clear why it has been given so much accolade and all praise is completely deserved. I cannot wait to go back and try more of the menu, if I can get a table…
Palomar, 34 Rupert Street, London, W1D 6DN ££ 9/10