Palomar

Restaurants Chinatown
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 out of 5 stars
(23 user reviews)
36 Love It
Save it
 (© Helen Cathcart)
1/10
© Helen Cathcart
 (© Helen Cathcart)
2/10
© Helen Cathcart
 (© Helen Cathcart)
3/10
© Helen Cathcart
 (© Helen Cathcart)
4/10
© Helen Cathcart
 (© Helen Cathcart)
5/10
© Helen Cathcart
 (© Helen Cathcart)
6/10
© Helen Cathcart
 (© Helen Cathcart)
7/10
© Helen Cathcart
 (© Helen Cathcart)
8/10
© Helen Cathcart
 (© Helen Cathcart)
9/10
© Helen Cathcart
 (© Helen Cathcart)
10/10
© Helen Cathcart

Fantastic modern-Israeli food, pulse-quickening dance music and a warm family atmosphere at the West End’s most unlikely bar-restaurant of the moment.

Pulse-quickening dance music, free-flowing drink, vibrantly flavoured dishes. These are commonplace enough in Israel’s fashionable restaurants, which are filled with beautiful people partying as if tomorrow may never come. London’s Jewish restaurants couldn’t be a bigger contrast. Many of them are still too worthy, too dull, or stuck in a kosher past that doesn’t innovate with dishes. But the London Jewish restaurant scene has just bucked up with the arrival of Palomar. Run by two Israeli-born nightclub entrepreneurs, it’s become the West End’s most unlikely bar-restaurant of the moment.
 
We were greeted like family as we arrived and were seated at the bar. These first-come, first-served counter seats have the best view in the house, as troupes of people squeezed past us along the narrow corridor of the bar, through to the leather-upholstered banquettes of the equally cosy restaurant at the back. Many shaloms are exchanged as new arrivals bump into acquaintances or friends. The convivial feel is helped along by the huge ratio of staff to customers, ensuring a glass never goes empty.

Our waitress talked us through every dish – the full restaurant menu’s served at the bar – with the smooth efficiency of an El Al air traffic controller. A ‘raw bar’ is also squeezed into the unfeasibly tiny entrance area, doling out the cold dishes. The menu’s not kosher: not with seafood such as a octopus tentacle, served Spanish tapa style with chickpeas, spinach, mallow leaves, yogurt and a kick of chilli. Dairy and meat also mix in this kitchen, for example a scoop of finely chopped beef with bulgur, tahini, pine nuts and herbs, a dish you might find anywhere in the Middle East – called kubania in Hebrew, kibbeh nayeh in Arabic.

Many of the dishes are recognisably Sephardic, that is, gathered from the Jewish diaspora when the family tree grew vigorously through North Africa, Iberia and further afield. The Yemeni-style bread, kubaneh, was our pick of the starters: a yeast bread baked in a tin, it’s tipped out still piping hot, to be torn by hand and eaten with rich tahini and tomato dips.

Tempting though it was to order the pork belly tagine for novelty value, we opted instead for the more orthodox Moroccan-style chermoula-stuffed sardines. The coriander-slathered oily fish, served with Moorish shards of fennel, orange segments, olives and almonds, was an appealing explosion of flavours and textures. Our favourite though was the dish called ‘shakshukit’ – no relation to the vegetarian dish of baked tomato and pepper dish called shakshuka, but a spicy mincemeat dish served in a swirl of tahini and yogurt, with freshly-baked round laffa bread: the tastes of the souk.  

Palomar transported me straight back to the Tel Aviv party scene; now, it seems, the party’s come to London. Jew or Gentile doesn’t matter here, but as well as being prepared to explore modern Sephardic cooking, bring an appetite for fun.

 

Venue name: Palomar
Contact:
Address: 34 Rupert Street
London
W1D 6DN
Opening hours: Lunch service beginning in early June noon-2.30pm, Mon-Sat; noon-5pm, Sun. Dinner served 5:30pm-12.30am, Mon-Sat.
Transport: Tube: Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus
Price: Meal for two with drinks and service: around £80
Do you own this business?

Average User Rating

4.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:15
  • 4 star:4
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|23
1 person listening
Tez F

I want to start by saying that this is such a great place. Although a little tight with space as you can see from image 1 (a bar in a hallway some might say). Still the space is quite enough and when you are sat down you become none the wiser. The staff are brilliantly efficient and so friendly and the food divine. 


I've pretty mush have had most of eh food on the menu from the bread to the salmon to the beetroot...the list goes on. Every dish I tried and every taste was delicious. For dessert I have the Jerusalem Mess and oh my it was not a mess at all!  The Eaton Mess has been one of my all time favourite desserts and at Palomar they now how to mix flavour with texture and make the dessert something you want to go back for again and again.  


A great place with a good atmosphere, brilliant staff and delicious food. 

MillieMollyMoo
Tastemaker

I am pleased I got to go here because I am part Israeli and I am very familiar with this sort cuisine. That being said not with this take to it though. I really like this place, you do have to book well in advance and it is only small place. I do like the feeling of exclusivity and excitement this place has about it. Looking back at my meal though I am a bit shocked at the prices they charge- over £5 for a big slice of challah bread, which was nice but no better than the challah I eat every week at my parents’ house! The food was flavoursome and original. The Cocktails on the menu are really fun too. But I don’t think worth the price it charges. I also think some of the food lacked that ‘umph’. If you are looking to eat food you could never cook at home, do go- it’s intricate and a lot of thought has gone into it. I wouldn’t be rushing back though, it didn’t leave the impression I hoped it would if I am honest.

Katie F
Tastemaker

Happily this is one of an elite club of Soho restaurants which you can actually book. Yippee. Palomar serves up middle eastern mezze plates. It's a sharing affair where five plates, picked wisely, go a long way. We picked the parsnip crisps, beetroot carpaccio and a couple of oysters from the raw bar to start. I could leave the crisps but the beetroot and goats cheese was delicious and the oysters were fresh and pretty as a picture (we regretted not ordering the bigger plate!). For main plates we had the Octo-hummus (octopus and hummus if you didn't guess - delicious), the Shakshukit (minced meat, yoghurt and tahini - the absolute STAR of the night) and the pork belly tagine which was nice but a bit too rich and salty for me. The Bumblebee cocktail is a taste of summer and their Old Fashioned is good, if a little sweet. Service was excellent, music is great. Palomar feels very comfortable, cosy and local and I'll definitely be going back.


O S

Amazing food and service. I was worried after booking this place that it wouldn't live up to the hype, however, it definitely deserved it's reputation! It's definitely worth booking ahead, as it's a very small restaurant. The dessert was also just as good as all other food!

SJB
Staff WriterStaff Comp

Had a working lunch here recently and absolutely loved it. Unusual dishes with really interesting flavours, mainly sharing plates. Great buzzy atmosphere and attentive staff. Keen to try it in the evening.

Sarah G
Tastemaker

Another one ticked off my Time Out list and so well deserved in its place. From first entry and feeling loved by being greeted by a wide range of v smiley, (not to mention) good looking staff to the patient and informative service at table, to the really interesting and unusual menu - everything was lovely.

We had about 8 menu items between 4 of us, including delicious beetroot carpaccio, an unctuous mushroom polenta, deeply savoury pork belly and a chicken and offal mixed grill all of which wowed us. Each dish is beautifully and quirkily presented, eg olives come in a bucket with a little metal trowel.

The only downside of our visit was we were on the clock to get to the cinema so couldn't enjoy a dessert and the bill was, despite our being clear we were needing to shift, a bit slow in coming and then payment being taken.

But all in all I'd give it the big thumbs up and look forward to returning, though getting booking is easier said than done!

Lila R

Brilliant restaurant with delicious food. On a rainy Saturday lunch time, this really was like walking into a Jerusalem cafe. The atmosphere is electric and chaotic; good music, friendly staff, buzzing bar and an oyster counter. Sit at the counter to be in the thick of it or for a slightly more private dining experience, sit at the tables in the back. The deconstructed kebab is delicious, as is the steak tartare. Highly recommend!

Laurala
Tastemaker

My absolute favourite restaurant in London. When I first ate at Palomar, we sat by the bar on a Friday night, and were simply blown away by the amazing food. This time around I went there for lunch, and again, wow. Make sure to book months in advance or be prepared having to wait. And as you probably already guessed, it's worth the wait.

Sarah V
Tastemaker

Having finally visited Palomar for the first time, I can now confirm that it definitely lives up to its reputation. The food was just exquisite and distinctively different. A real feast for your taste buds. I would recommend the Kubaneh as a starter and the Salmon Tartar from the raw bar. There are also plenty of vegetarian options on the menu (among which are the Fattoush Salad and the Cauliflower steak), each one more delicious than the other. We paired our food choices with a red Israeli wine which allowed for a great combination of flavours. The restaurant is tiny so booking is definitely a must. Unfortunately they insist on having loud 90s dance music as background noise so if you were thinking of taking your parents here, you might want to reconsider and take them elsewhere instead. 

Dee
Tastemaker

I've recently visited Palomar and had a great meal of Shakshukit and a delicious chocolate mousse dessert. I was put off by one thing though. If you sit at the bar you can watch the chefs prepare your meal. What happened was while one of the chefs was preparing my dessert, she dropped a piece of fruit on the floor. She picked it up, quickly rinsed it and continued to put it on my dessert. I watched her slowly finish making my dessert while another chef was watching the whole thing.I finally asked "didn't you just drop that fruit on the floor?" And she went "i thought it used to be ok just rinse it". I couldn't believe my eyes. This is the ethic behind such a restaurant? I really enjoy eating outside, but if this is what's happening behind the counters everywhere, i'm very concerned. 

dor z

 AMAZING!! The best restaurant I've ever been in my life. Food was fresh, clean and smell very well.

dovpanda
Tastemaker

I planned to go to Palomar for a while now, and having my parents in town was the perfect opportunity to celebrate an occasion. I reserve a table a few days ahead and since myself and and mom are vegan, I made sure the restaurant is aware and can accommodate accordingly. 

Upon arriving to the restaurant, we we greeted by the friendly staff. The waiter has talked to the chef and made a list of dishes that can suit vegans, some were off the menu and some were additional dishes the chef can make for us. We had quite a big variety to choose from.

The food was very lovely, tasty, fresh, fun. We got a plate of sweet potato 'crisps' on the house which was an absolute delight! The evening went very well, the atmosphere was great, I do recommend this as a unique tasting experience and will defiantly come back soon.

jael m
Staff Writer

One of my favourite restaurants in London right now! 

The small plates (still big enough to satisfy a larger appetite) combine great flavour combinations that create different taste 'layers'. It's a very small place so can be hard to get a table but if you walk in and get a seat at the bar you get more of that NY-eaterie feeling, which also makes this a great spot for solo diners. The menu changes regularly but there’s usually a home made bread - by a fellow baker, called Yael I believe ;) - which I highly recommend with a selection of Levantine starters.

And the cocktails, which you can start to enjoy while you wait are great too!

Mark O'Donnell
moderatorStaff Writer

Palomar had been on my hitlist of places to eat in London since it opened but glowing reviews and its diminutive dining room meant it was always fully booked when I tried to book.


I finally visited at lunchtime recently to celebrate a special occasion, and it actually exceeded my expectations - every dish was a knockout, even simple things like a fattoush salad and the warm kubaneh bread (bit like brioche) were lick-the-plate great, while the polenta with truffle, asparagus and mushroom had the sort of lingering flavour that stays with you for weeks after. 


I had reservations about sitting at the stools at the bar previously, but I'd actually go back just to do that (staff recommended that too). Here you get to see the chefs at work and feel the heat of the kitchen. Potent cocktails are on hand to cool you down and the wine we tried more than matched the quality of the food.


The sort of food I'd happily eat at every day if I could, Palomar is definitely in my top five restaurants in London.  

Alex Plim
moderatorStaff Writer

Palomar generated a significant amount of buzz when it opened, and it was all completely justified. My meal here was quite simply one of the best I've had in London – the food was spectacular and the vibe was brilliant.


Don't bother with a table – the best seats are up at the counter. Here you can sit and watch the chefs at work, creating dishes with an infectious energy that'll enhance your whole experience of the restaurant.


Don't miss the bread in a tin – it's wonderful. And the stuff from the raw bar is a treat too. Oh, and you can't leave without trying the polenta as well.

bowertron

Extremely Yum! managed to get a table on a friday evening prior to The Book Of Mormon. Incredible food amazing ambience. The place oozes confidence the staff just love working there and you can tell that they all seem to be having a great time, in turn you feel good. definitely worth a visit.

writtenbyfitton

Loved The Palomar - I'm only annoyed I didn't visit sooner!  Unusual and delicious food, fun atmosphere sitting up at the Kitchen Bar, and not too pricey.

KD
Staff Writer

I would definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone! The food is exquisite and healthy portions. The vibe is welcoming and perfect for a friendly dinner (can be at times too noisy). Excellent place if you are into sharing and trying different dishes and the menu is varied and interesting, makes you want to try everything!

The only down side is the long wait and the fact that you cannot sit down whilst waiting for your friend to join you. 

Overall a great experience!  

dinner with jo

Palomar (English): Mount Palomar, a mountain in Southern California, northeast of San Diego, height of 1,871 m.

Palomar (Spanish): a shelter with nest holes for domesticated pigeons.

I’ve no idea why it is called Palomar. What I do know though, is it is very very good.


Every time I tried to book a table online I was rejected. What was I to do? Give up? Turn up and hope for the best? We opted for the latter on Saturday evening. We turned up at 7pm to find a hubbub of people outside and one of the managers with a clipboard. She took our name and phone number down and we went for a drink, anticipating a two-hour wait. Our call came early though, after just over an hour, so we walked back, at a brisk pace to ensure our space wasn’t given away.


We were shown to our space at the bar, on the far right, and were greeted by Thomas, second in command in the kitchen. Not only was Thomas second in command; he took our order, served our food, answered our many questions, discussed life and love with us and plied us with shots.


We ordered the seven course tasting menu to ensure we didn’t miss out on anything special. Each course was spectacular. Salmon carpaccio followed by “kubenia” (extremely finely hand chopped beef fillet with bulgur, tahini, herbs, pine nuts and tomato). This was really great as it was very unlike any raw beef dish I’d had before, and beautifully presented.


Next came “Polenta Jerusalem style” (asparagus, mushroom ragout, parmesan & truffle oil with a poached egg). This dish was perfectly sized as any more could have been slightly too rich and any less would leave the consumer wanting more. This was followed by a risotto with salmon then sea bass and mackerel with braised cauliflower.  


We then had onlget steak with a financier (a small, spongy French cake) with a blueberry sauce served on the side in a very miniature saucepan, the whole dish nicknamed “steak ‘n’ cake.” It makes dining out far more interesting when you try something for the first time. This was definitely the first time I had mixed steak with cake and it was pretty liberating, if a little confusing for the taste buds. A very loose comparison would be a chocolate covered pretzel (sweet yet salty).


The final course was a multi-faceted dessert; chocolate cremeux (eaten with a spoon but denser than mousse) with puffed rice crunch, pomegranate coulis and cocoa tuile, labneh ice cream, tahini ice cream and raspberry cheesecake. I adored the chocolate, and thought it went superbly with pomegranate coulis. The labneh ice cream tasted a little like frozen yoghurt but better, and the malabi was delightful. I’m afraid to say I didn’t like the tahini ice cream; I have no doubts that if I were to compare it to rival tahini ice cream this would win hands down, but the flavour and texture are quite unique and unfortunately not my favourite.

Every so often an 80’s classic would start playing and the whole Palomar team would sing along, Tomer (head chef) would drum away at the kitchen counter and the shots would come out. It felt like a more upmarket version of the bar in the movie Coyote Ugly. We didn’t want to leave (but were so full that falling asleep then and there would otherwise have been inevitable).


The tasting menu plus a carafe of wine came to around £60 per head, but ordering from the regular menu would make it significantly cheaper. It was worth every penny though, and I thoroughly recommend going without a booking and waiting to sit at the bar to get the full experience. I enjoyed Palomar so much I’m going to create a rating system just to give it ten out of ten:

Rating: 10/10

UnpubdTLV

I'm well versed in Israel's foodie scene, including Assaf Granit's Jerusalem hide-holes, so I expected a direct replication in London. But London is not Tel-Aviv, not even Jerusalem. The food was similar, but everything was a little less fresh, a little bit blander (a result of our climate, no doubt, but also finished with less devotion and attention to detail); the atmosphere lacked that friendly informality that makes Israel's best restaurants so compelling. Yes, there were smiles from the staff, but the interactions were forced rather than fun, everything was correct and worthy rather than vivacious and chaotic. I can see why the Palomar's been embraced by London: you can almost feel what it is aiming for, and in a city so strangled by the serious business of social convention, even its slightest crack comes as a breath of fresh air. But Honey&Co does the real Israeli experience oh so much better (though it replicates a Tel-Aviv lunch rather than a Jerusalem dinner), and The Palomar isn't what it could be. It's a start, though...

Jacqui H

Superb food, lovely staff, great atmosphere, fabulous time had sitting at the bar watching it all go on.

Jo B

Amazing place. The food was just fabulous ! Every dish was WoW. 

Finally something new and fresh in London . 

The service is superb and the cocktails where 10/10.

Will be back here for sure asap.

All the best!