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  • Restaurants
  • Fitzrovia
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. Carmel
    Photograph: Steven Joyce
  2. Carmel
    Photograph: Steven Joyce
  3. Carmel
    Photograph: Steven Joyce
  4. Carmel
    Photograph: Steven Joyce
  5. Carmel
    Photograph: Steven Joyce

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

A lively Oxford Circus spot, serving maximalist plates teetering with tasty ideas

First came Berber & Q, all thumping music, saucer-eyed energy and yoghurt smears. Then there was Carmel in Queen’s Park, a more genteel, well-heeled affair that turned out Middle Eastern dishes that managed to be both complicated and tasty. It ended up being so popular, attracting visitors from all over London, that locals got the hump. That was their charming little secret spot. And now it’s overrun with foodies. Those same, resentful north-west London curtain twitchers will be relieved; a new, much larger Carmel has opened slap-bang in the middle of central London.

Everything that Carmel does well is replicated here, in a bigger and brasher context. This is a fun place that combines Berber & Q’s lusty Balearic gaiety with its sister restaurant’s more mannered, polished plating. As usual it’s all about the dollops and sauces, the teetering constructions and the myriad multi-coloured bits. The hispi cabbage side dish, perfectly caramelised, studded with macadamia dukkah and perched on a labneh cloud, makes most - if not all - other hispi cabbage sides look decidedly half-arsed. The bone marrow chute would not be caught dead merely being a bone marrow chute, so instead it arrived on shards of rosemary, densely packed with chilli and garlic pangrattato. Sensationally extra. 

The bone marrow chute would not be caught dead merely being a bone marrow chute

The aforementioned OG Queen’s Parkers have a new reason to grumble however: one Oxford Circus-exclusive dish was absolutely banging. A deep bowl of shining mussels, sent through the machine from ‘The Fly’ with a lump of blue cheese and some ricotta. A culinary slap bass solo you just don’t want to end. The grilled urfa chicken main, looking like a flamethrower’d pigeon but tasting like a pleasantly bittersweet roast dinner, was another fist-pumping standout. It should be noted too, that the famous sourdough flatbreads have lost none of their vim, our lamb one with pomegranate and sumac (ingredients that owners Josh and Paul Katz must surely buy in economy-sized sacks, daily), was the ideal carb-y companion, the doughy Sam Gamgee to the rest of the meal’s ephemeral (read: yoghurt-y) Frodo Baggins. 

Like an expanding flatbread, the Katz-ian Empire grows ever larger (let’s not forget the Shawarma Bar in Clerkenwell). This is it at its best. It’s not quite the Big Topshop, but maybe Oxford Circus is getting some of its old magic back.

The vibe Lively central-London dining with dark wood, low lights and black steel. Handsome.

The food Fantastic creations fly out of the open kitchen. Mediterranean dishes that have broken into mum’s ‘Saturday night’ wardrobe and her makeup drawer. 

The drink All sorts of excellent wines, courtesy of buyer Mattia Bianchi. We’d also vouch for the tasty olive leaf martini.

Time Out Tip Anyone interested in using Carmel as a smoochie-woochie setting for a hot date would do well to review the ambience-tastic green bit at the back of the restaurant.

Joe Mackertich
Written by
Joe Mackertich


8 Market Pl
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