Found in Soho, this little restaurant could be easy to miss amongst all of the others surrounding it, however the blue shopfront (looking more like a French bistro than you would expect from a restaurant serving Modern Jerusalem food) has an inviting glow from within, and the large window allows you to glimpse the buzz inside.
The restaurant is split into two halves, front and back, for just 40 covers. The former greets you with liveliness from the zinc bar that surrounds an open kitchen. Each seat along the bar was laid out beautifully and the bright teal stools, with a great contrast against the metal counter and mosaic floor. Bright pops of colour against sophisticated materials seemed a theme in this section, as a neon pink light glows against a marble oyster counter – With this and the open kitchen in such close proximity you could almost see your whole meal go from prep to plate.
The back section of the restaurant where we were seated, looks more in keeping with the ‘bistro’ exterior and has a more intimate feel; a deep blue banquette runs around the walls against oak paneling and dark tables, and there are tarnished mirrors, a half-screen separating the kitchen and a traditional dark parquet flooring giving it a classic appearance. A skylight in the ceiling stops it from being too dark and provides natural light, which with the small wall lamps, which creates a lovely warm atmosphere.
The menu at the Palomar can be quite daunting at first glance as it’s broken into four different sections and there are a lot of dishes, but once its explained the choice is amazing…
We started with traditional dishes: Challah bread, a toasted braided brioche bread with tahini dip, and Nishnush (cod falafel-style nibbles) which were both totally delicious. We then had a mix of dishes form the two tapas-type menus – one ‘raw’ and one hot dishes. The octo-hummous, a large chunk of grilled octopus on chickpeas, hummous and green pesto, was our favourite dish out of them all. A raw salmon dish with pomegranate gems, fresh herbs and parsnip chips was also a delight. We also tried josperised aubergine and polenta Jerusalem style – two simple traditional dishes, but so flavoursome.
We then tried the pork belly tagine for main, which was perfectly tender, and the fish of the day which was cod in a Moroccan chreymeh and octopus stew. You could really see the mix of influences that went into the menu from Spain, Africa and obviously Jerusalem, just from these two dishes alone – Stunning.
We finished the meal ‘in style’ (as the dessert menu suggests’ with a very pretty malabi – a rose-scented milk pudding (and you could really pick up the hint of rose) with a raspberry coulis, pistachio crumb, shredded filo and mini meringues. The textures were perfect.
The staff were equally as impressive as the menu, incredibly welcoming and attentive, and very knowledgeable on the complex mix of ingredients within the menu – they were happy to share with us all that they knew.
We will be rushing back to the Palomar very soon, it was one of the best meals out we’ve had in London. Next time, we’ll sit along the bar as we think this will be quite a different experience – Hopefully we’ll be able to see the chefs banging on pots and pans along with the music rather than just hear them!