Palomar

  • Restaurants
4 Love It
1/10
© Helen Cathcart
2/10
© Helen Cathcart
3/10
© Helen Cathcart
4/10
© Helen Cathcart
5/10
© Helen Cathcart
6/10
© Helen Cathcart
7/10
© Helen Cathcart
8/10
© Helen Cathcart
9/10
© Helen Cathcart
10/10
© Helen Cathcart
Chinatown

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

Average User Rating

4.6 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:9
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|13
4 people listening
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
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.

Karen d
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!