Palomar - Soho, London
Soho is arguably the best place to eat in London. It is so densely populated with hot new openings and superstar chefs, you’re seeing so many Michelin stars you may feel you’ve been knocked unconscious. It’s easy to feel so overwhelmed with options (and full of dread at the thought of ‘that queue’) that you give up and order a deliveroo. This is why I often outsource this process to my foodie pals. Cooincidence or not, I have somehow surrounded myself with a bunch of foodies with excellent taste (I even married a trained chef!) On one sunny sunday, my dear friend Hannah (who has worked in some of the best restaurants in London) introduced me to Palomar. Trust me on this one, everyone needs a Hannah in their life!
Palomar is one of the most unique and exciting dining experiences I have ever had. Mediterranean cuisine is not usually my first choice, however, Palomar is much more than that. Their menu, described as ‘modern Jerusalem fare’ is a multi-cultural blend of dishes with North African, Spanish and eastern Mediterranean accents. I don’t understand most of what is on the menu, but that doesn’t matter. The staff are ready with a list of recommendations of their most popular dishes and an uncanny ability of understanding just how hungry you are.
We started with the Kubaneh (Yemeni pot-baked bread) that is almost like a sweet brioche-like bread that comes with a side of tahini and velvet tomatoes, both of which I would eat by the tubful given the opportunity. The Josperised Aubergine feta emulsion with tomato, fresh oregano, crispy shallots & pine nuts came next along with 'A Hot Date with Gem lettuce' with medjool dates, bacon, citrus vinaigrette, toasted almonds & ricotta salata. Who knew that cooked lettuce could be so good? The real standout here though is that melt-in-your-mouth Shakshukit; a deconstructed kebab with minced beef & lamb, yoghurt, tahini, cured lemon & harissa, straight to the top of my list of must-try dishes in London.
While food like this could be served on a budget plastic dining table from Argos and still be mind-blowing, the atmosphere at Palomar is what makes it a truly great dining experience. Its founders consist of two ex-night-club owners and it shows! The blaring soundtrack which complements our meal is a welcome mix of pumping beats , even at midday on a Sunday! Sitting up at the bar and watching the magic happen is the best place to be. Unlike anywhere else I’ve been, it seems totally normal to jump into conversation with the stranger dining beside you, ask what they’re having and even have a taste test! The busy kitchen staff work with such grace, rhythm and focus, it’s almost like watching a theatre production… but with shots. That’s right … shots of something.. I’m not sure.
The Palomar team are so damn cool, calm and collected, despite the popularity of this place buzzing around them. Their passion and energy is infectious and you kind of want to hang out with them all day in the stunning, white marble space surrounded by accents of pink and gold. We throw back the last of our wine and head out past the pink neons and drag ourselves outside into the suddenly glaringly bright London daylight.
You will find The Palomar Restaurant at 34 Rupert St, London W1D 6DN. Opening hours are as follows:
Monday to Saturday
12noon – 2.30pm /5.30pm – 11pm
12.30pm – 3.30pm / 6pm – 9pm