The Palomar has been making waves on the London foodie scene since it opened in May. From the moment a friend described is as ‘like walking into a music festival’, my attention was positively pricked and I knew I had to get stuck in. So a few weeks on, when I am planning a leaving lunch for my colleague Dan, the Palomar is first on my radar.
As we arrive for our 2pm ressie, there are a few gaps emerging at the kitchen bar, so we hop up here rather than at our designated table down the back which is a tad hectic. Let me be clear, space is hard to come by at The Palomar. Don’t come here for a top secret meeting, I’d also advise against taking anyone you shouldn’t be with. Whether you run into someone you know or not is variable, but you’ll never have much breathing room. What I do advise, though, is embracing this, as there is a lot to love about the place.
The menu makes for an endearing story of sharing plates, the Raw Bar alone could keep me entertained for a long time. With all the Mediterranean freshness you can imagine plus the depth of spice from North Africa, if this is what the food of modern day Jerusalem is like, I am a fan. Flat leaf parsley is a mainstay, which I am jumping up and down about, naturally. What’s more, the punchy flavours and rustic presentation are right up the Very Kerri street of appreciation. Although, I would note, the kilner jar trend has moved on since 2012.
Let’s start with that raw bar. Kubenia, essentially beef tartare, showcases glorious beef with hits of fresh sweetness from tahini and, stop press, pomegranate. I’ve never been big on tahini, always replacing with nut butter when making hummus, but you’ve got to hand it to them, it works a treat here. A crunchy fennel salad with shaved asparagus, kohlrabi, feta and a smattering of seeds is a great accompaniment.
Polpo à la Papi is the sort of thing that I’d happily scoff for brekkie, lunch and dinner. We’re talking meaty octopus with chickpeas, chilli and parsley on yogurt with lashings of olive oil.
I don’t afford myself the luxury of indulging in the labneh tortellini, but if Dan’s radio silence is anything to go by, it’s a winner. The pasta is bathing butternut squash cream, which I’d happily mop up without batting an eyelid. Labneh is like Greek yogurt with even more of the whey strained off, resulting in a rich slightly salty cheese. It’s gorgeous when whipped, as are most things in life.
Polenta ‘Jerusalem style’ is something of a signature dish at the Palomar; think of the creamiest mash, well it’s sort of like that, just creamier. The pleasantly crunchy asparagus doesn’t stand a chance against the decadent flavours of truffle, Parmesan and mushroom. I say, give this one a try, but go for the small portion as it’s heavy going stuff.
Ending things on a high note, one example of sheer joy is Josper-grilled sea bass with cauliflower and pretty greens things on top. Some might raise an eyebrow at my current cauliflower obsession, but on a dish like this, it’s completely justifiable.
Even the coffee is like a bespoke service, whether you like it extra hot or extra strong, you’ll get your hit. The boys shake us up some digestif cocktails to send us on our way.
If Palomar is the music festival, somebody get me to the after party.
Five Very Kerri things about Palomar
The chipper engaging team
Counter-top dining, baby
The playlist that makes you want to dance on that counter-top