Palomar – The hyperballad of Jerusalem’s Tastes in Soho [London]

The soulful dining scene of Jerusalem’s beloved MachneYuda restaurant blesses London’s Soho with a cutting edge branch & ingenious happy food.

One of the most remarkable food experiences I have had was in a fun and creative spot in Jerusalem called Machneyuda – vibrant, different, with an enthusiastic crowd and crew behind the counter, dishing out exquisite food. There was such a sense of a thrill that night on my first visit – walking in the remarkable streets of this ancient city after a great dining experience. I went back a few times to Israel because of that: the joy of living and eating.

In London this vibrant middle-eastern vibe has made its charming appearance  in trendy and frenzied Soho and I am happy to say that The Palomar, by chef  Yossi Elad, showcases a cuisine as fun and energetic as its roots in Jerusalem – an influence of Southern Spain, North Africa and the Levant.

With a charming entrance and happening scene the space is a cosy affair – all dark woods, reclaimed parquet floor, petrol blue tones on banquette leather seating and designed lighting to usher the clientele into its more private dining space or the bar counter – a 16 seat zinc bar with mosaic marble floor – where a ‘say hello to the person next to you’ kind of energy weaves through crew and diners, in an organic and cool way that only Israelis can do it so well.

I loved the kubaneh bread served warm in a tin, the scallop roe taramasalata, the burnt courgette tzatziki, the divine baba ganoush with pomegranate seed to start, followed by Moroccan mussels and the wonderful shakshukit of lamb, pistachios and pine nuts with artichokes a la plancha. Although the dinning space is a very elegant affair – and a little quieter – the star seats are at the bar, open-kitchen counter. It is a delight to see the food and drink being prepared while you can chat and interact with the wonderful chefs and mixologists preparing your dining experience – and it is an experience.

The drinks are a chapter aside – inventive, tasty, moody or chilled: Drunken Botanist with gin, campari & maraschino or perhaps the ‘It Won’t Kill-Ya, a Calle 23, Cocchi Rosa, lavender, kaffir lime & egg white concoction to take the evening to another level – a holly one.

Good dinning is the art of hosting, entertaining and giving space at the right time, so one’s guests can savior all that a chef has carefully composed. The Palomar hits all the right notes on making it a wholesome dining experience where one is bound to leave the place as if leaving the house of an old dear friend – eagerly anticipating the next visit.