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Oma

  • Restaurants
  • Borough
  • price 3 of 4
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. Oma
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    Gilles Draps
  6. Oma
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  7. Oma
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Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

A innovative, wildly imaginative Greek-ish restaurant in the middle of Borough Market

Opening a restaurant in Borough Market is surely the truest real-life enactment of a blessing and a curse. Here you are in the world’s most famous food market, but surrounded by literally hundreds of other options for passing trade to choose from, not to mention a zombie-like parade of hangry tourists and an atmosphere as febrile as Paul Mescal’s DMs. Only a handful of spots are truly capable of rising above the rest to serve not just to serve the best food in the market, but in London itself. A month after Oma opens, we find a restaurant that’s worth the hype and, perhaps, a little bit more.

Oma comes from – as unbearable people are fond of saying – ‘good stock’. It’s the latest opening from David Carter, the brawny Bajan chef and restaurateur who has been doing transcendental things with food since he moved to London to work with Gordon Ramsay, before launching live-fire forerunner Smokestak and the show-stopping Manteca. Oma is Greek in the same way that Manteca is Italian, which is to say that traditionalists would baulk at what Carter and Jorge Paredes (ex-exec chef of Sabor) are doing here, while everyone else would tell them to hush up and enjoy the tsalafouti. 

Our meal started how, if I had my way, every dinner would – with crisps

Greek food is the jumping-off point for a menu that begins on the Ionian islands before skipping off to the Levant by way of the Balkans, with a south American stop-off. There’s also a whole menu of crudo (with a raw fish ice counter welcoming you into the minimal, slate grey space) and another dedicated to skewers cooked over a large grill in the middle of this first floor spot, which cuts right through the middle of Borough Market with agreeable views of the Dickensian, cobbled Bedale Street.

Our meal started how, if I had my way, every dinner would – with crisps. These weren’t your everyday cornershop fodder, but freshly cooked, warm and so decadently oily they became one with your tongue. It’s become something of a cliche to lavish praise on the most basic of bread baskets, but Oma’s heroic offering of hot, burnished laffa flatbread and doughy, Turkish bagel-like açma verde were majestic. Of course, they would have been nothing without a series of divine dips, namely a rich pool of labneh topped with crispy, oozy salt cod xo sauce, which may be the best £6 you can spend in London right now. A sweet, ruby-red ajvar with mizithra cheese and hazelnuts is almost as good. God-tier picky bits.

Next, meaty mussels on a bed of breaded saganaki, before another mighty beast of a dish: charred lamb belly, with a mound of fluffy hummus, and hearty shallot and mint salata. We are told of the complex way in which the hummus is made, something involving ice and whipping. It largely goes over our heads, but not our bellies; hard work has been put in, and the result is a creamy, fluffy foil to rudely crisp squares of belly, which are more fat than meat, and, as such, utterly addictive. From the skewer menu we opt for a metal spike of crunchy-suckered octopus and punchy smoked sausage (marvellous, of course) and from the grill a platter of dry-aged lamb chop with a chunky, chimichurri-esque green sauce. In what is perhaps the single misstep of the evening, the meat is a touch chewy, but the flavours are potent and presentation impeccable. 

A wild red prawn giouvetsi stew, an extremely pleasing looking dish of glossy orzo shimmering with deep-fried prawn butter in a Cretan clay pot ends two hours of raptures, before our dessert comes, confidently treating the line with between sweet and savoury. Olive oil ice cream was brazenly smooshed (‘someone asked if it was hummus last night’ says our server) and studded with fennel pollen, the resulting flavour and salty pops not unlike licking your arm on a hot summer’s day.

Like Smokestak and Manteca before it, Oma is doing something exceptional – the baying, comte-crazed Borough Market crowds should not deter you from making it here as soon as you possibly can (and immediately ordering that xo salt cod labneh dip).

The vibe London’s in-the-know food-eratti are packing out this first floor spot room in historic Borough Market. 

The food Greek-inspired small plates with big flavours from the Med (and further afield); lots of raw fish, plenty of hummus and a strong skewer game. 

The drink There’s a 450-strong wine list, but the cocktails are equally impressive and more refreshing (try the blood orange mezcal margarita and retsina spritz). 

Time Out tip Start proceedings with ‘small’ serving of Oma’s clementine gimlet for just £5.

Leonie Cooper
Written by
Leonie Cooper

Details

Address:
2-4 Bedale St
London
SE1 9AL
Opening hours:
Tue-Sun; 12-3pm, 5.30-11pm
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