Please note, Café Hampstead has closed. Time Out Food editors, March 2019.
Browsing through the menu at this upmarket café, you spot the usual Israeli suspects: hummus, tahini, harissa, aubergine, chicken schnitzel – so far so good – but then in creeps the pizza section. Er, what?
I steered clear of the pizza on my visit and dived into the more ‘traditional’ bits. The burnt aubergine (£8) arrived in a pool of creamy tahini, topped with chopped tomatoes and coriander leaves. There was plenty for two, and it was gooey with a smoky flavour – the perfect accompaniment to the light and fluffy pitta.
The chicken schnitzel (£15) from the ‘large plates’ section was absolutely humongous – the crisp breaded chicken covered three quarters of the plate – although it was desperately in need of some sort of side dip. A marinated prawn kebab (£14) was succulent and well-seasoned with Moroccan spices.
Puds were special: the tahini ice cream (£7) at first had a beautiful butterscotch flavour, with a sweet, nutty sesame aftertaste. Also delicious was the rich chocolate mousse (£6). Both, again, were massive portions that could probably have been halved, but that didn’t stop us from finishing every last spoonful.
The emerald greens, monochrome tiles and chrome details at Café Hampstead give it an upmarket vibe, and seating in the conservatory would be particularly delightful on a sunny day.
One gripe: we felt under pressure to eat quickly. At the start we were warned that we’d have to give our table back within 90 minutes, and before we’d finished our starters, the waiter came over to tell us our mains were ready, before pouncing on our plates. Steel yourself for a speedy eat.