This restaurant opened in June 2014, serving food that draws on influences from around the Middle East and the Mediterranean. A trio of chefs that own Palomar have worked together at a Jerusalem restaurant called Machneyuda, but the head chef in London is Moroccan Tomer Amedi, who also previously worked at Machenyuda.
The dining room seats 35 people, with an extra 15 seats at the bar at the front of the restaurant. Tables are what an estate agent might describe as “snug”, tiny and crammed together. The dining area has banquette seating, and although music was playing at this busy lunchtime it was not excessively noisy (peaking at a tolerable 75 decibels).
There was a short wine list with just over two dozen labels, ranging in price from £23 to £70, with a median price of £39 and an average mark-up of 2.8 times the retail price, which is not bad for London. Example labels were Roussane Domaine Trinites 2012 at £29 for a wine that you can find in the high street for £12, the excellent Chateau Musar 2004 at £52 compared to a shop price of £23, and Chassagne-Montrachet Blanc Domaine Morey-Coffinet 2010 at £70 for a wine that retails at £20.
I most enjoyed kubaneh (£8.50), a pot-baked Yemeni loaf, served warm and with excellent texture (14/20). This bread is made in-house each morning, and didn’t need the tahini dip, nor the tasteless grated tomatoes served with it. Kubania (£5) was a kind of Mediterranean beef tartare, fillet steak hand-chopped and mixed with bulghur wheat, tahini, herbs and pine nuts. This was decent enough, though the beef itself was nothing special, and for me could have been seasoned more (12/20).
A sea bass (£15) fillet was cooked in the Josper grill, served with braised cauliflower, notionally crispy potatoes (which weren’t) with a citrus vinaigrette. The fish was cooked well enough and the skin was crisp, but the farmed bass lacked flavour (12/20).
Chocolate cremeux (£7) had smooth texture and was pleasantly rich, served with a chocolate tuile, though something acidic to cut through the richness might have been beneficial, rather than the almond streusel crumb actually used (the pomegranate coulis was so subtle as to be invisible) . The mousse was served on a rock-hard biscuit base (12/20).
Service was rather scatty, though friendly enough. The bill for one, with just water to drink (filtered tap water charged at £1) came to £41. If you shared a bottle of wine and had coffee then a typical all-in bill here might be £60 or so. It was a pleasant enough experience overall, though for the same amount of money you could eat better elsewhere: at nearby Michelin starred Alyn Williams, for example, you can currently have three courses at lunch for £30. Palomar was very busy even at this midweek lunch, so they have clearly found a successful formula.