There’s no actual tatreez – traditional Palestinian embroidery – in evidence at this funky new café. It’s fitted out in plain chunky blocks of wood, with a high counter in front of the whitewashed swell of a bread oven, and a big communal table at the back. A small collection of Palestinian deli produce and samples of a Gazan cookbook adorn the bar; the chalkboard menu is studded with symbols of the Palestinian flag, indicating where fairly-traded ingredients have made it on to the menu from the owner’s conflicted homeland.
The menu lacks the depth of equivalent cafés on the Edgware Road. There is a very selective range of café snacks that only hints at the depth and breadth of the region’s cooking. The Palestinian angle seems to refer mostly to the provenance of the ingredients; the dishes would be perfectly at home in Beirut, but their execution is spot on.
After a bowl of Palestinian olives and a couple of easy-drinking Lebanese beers, we had tart makdous – pickled baby aubergines stuffed with walnuts and chilli – fluffy, creamy and warm full-stewed chickpeas, and crisp manaeesh flatbread baked with a cheese and za’atar thyme mix. We chose a honeyed Palestinian white wine, but there are also some excellent Lebanese wines. Throughout all of this, a live guitarist strummed world jazz, one of the regular free sets.
On an average Tuesday night, the space filled quickly with artfully dishevelled locals having beers and snacks, listening to the music and generally having a jolly old time; minimal politics, maximum enjoyment.