For months now I’ve been trying to convince Shiima to come with me to The Palomar. My pitch was that The Palomar is a Middle Eastern restaurant and Shiima is half Middle Eastern (Saudi), but that fell like a lead balloon once she looked at the menu. Cos evidently Saudi food is VERY different from Israeli food – “where is all the rice” 😂 – and there was only one dish on the menu that interested her besides the rip and dip bread options. So solo excursion it became.
The Palomar is a tapas style restaurant in the heart of Soho that serves the food of Mordern day Jerusalem (taken verbatim from the website). When booking on their website, I was given the option of bar seating, and I snatched that because its absolutely perfect for solo dining experiences. Peculiarly, you can only book a spot at the bar for the first sitting, which are at noon for lunch and 5:30PM for dinner. I arrived just after 5:30PM to meet a small queue going out the door, and most of them had also booked a spot at the bar. The hostess checked us all in pretty swiftly and I was sat in the middle of the full bar, which is just inside the restaurant and overlooking the bustling kitchen. My waitress, who was initially more professional and less friendly, quickly attended to me and did a good job of explaining the menu. She firstly suggested 2-3 dishes – a rip and dip bread dish, a cold dish, and then a hot dish, which could serve as a main because they are the larger sized dishes. Its tapas style so there aren’t dishes designated starters or main. Then she noticed I was alone and became somewhat perplexed and amused, but I went ahead and ordered three hot dishes – Octo-hummous, Ironed Chicken thighs, and Siske Pork Belly – which further perplexed her. She asked that I reconsider because that was a lot of food, but nah, I’m good 😄.
The Octo-hummous arrived first, and it looked so delicious that the couple beside me asked the waiter what dish it was. It tasted utterly delicious too. The octopus was perfectly grilled; it wasn’t seasoned much, but octopus has an innate delicious flavour especially when grilled, and the creamy tasty msabacha (~warm hummous) complimented the grilled octopus perfectly. The Ironed Chicken Thighs were next to arrive, and my first reaction was that it wasn’t a large dish so I could certainly order more lol. Like the octopus, the chicken thighs were perfectly grilled and seasoned lightly, although the za’atar & sumac rub was evident. The chicken thighs were set on luscious yogurt, which I wanted more of, but before I could ponder that further my pork belly arrived. Now the pork belly was certainly a good portion. It was incredibly succulent, and the celeriac cream underneath was really good, and so were the glazed carrots and the dried apricots, which gave the dish a subtle sweet kick.
I wasn’t done, which surprised my waitress, whom at this point had become a lot friendlier … almost like a sweet aunt. I asked for a recommendation, and she suggested a light vegetarian dish. But nahhh, its protein for me! I ordered shakshukit (a deconstructed kebab) and she informed me that she could order a smaller size of the dish, just for me, and I happily went for that. The dish came in two mini pans, one pan had the freshly baked pita bread and the other had the minced beef and lamb with tahini, yogurt and harissa. I split the pita and put everything from the other pan into the pita. It was so good. The combination of flavours was perfection, certainly not like any kebab I’ve ever had before.
The dessert menu was put in front of me, and I reluctantly glanced through the menu, but quickly became interested by the Malabi – which is Rose-scented milk pudding, raspberry coulis, coconut meringue pistachio crunch, fresh raspberries & kataifi (verbatim from the menu). Now that’s a dessert I’ve never had before. I ordered it, and the waitress commended my order because it was the lightest of the dessert options. Firstly, the dessert looked gorgeous, and it tasted gorgeous and really light as well; it wasn’t overly sweet and the coconut meringue and pistachio crunch were a revelation.
I really enjoyed my solo excursion to the Palomar. It’s great exploring new cuisine, but I’m well aware it depends largely on the cuisine being done right, and they certainly do modern Jerusalem cuisine incredibly well at The Palomar. I’m going to try dragging Shiima along next time because there are a fair few dishes I saw that looked like she’d enjoy. The staff, who peculiarly all seemed of a certain vintage (mid thirties to early forties), were very friendly and professional, which goes well with casual affable vibe of the restaurant. The Palomar is reasonably priced as well, especially for its standard and the location. I recommend for foodies, a casual date, midsized groups, and food tourism (which is something I just came up with, Yes, me, Amen, I came up with that!😝😂).
Cuisine: Middle Eastern (Contemporary Jerusalem)
Dress Code: Casual
Star Dish: Shakshukit (deconstructed kebab)
Price: £40 each (excluding alcohol)
Rating: 5 out of 5
34 Rupert Street
London W1D 6DN
To Reserve a table call 0207 439 8777 or at OpenTable for bar-seating as well.