There is a shrewdness behind the whole Berenjak concept, from the siting of the venue through to the vibe and the food. Diners are told to expect a combination of ‘home-style’ cooking combined with a ‘hole-in-the-wall’ kebab experience; something for everyone, especially in Soho. While the mains at Berenjak are indeed centred around the grilling of meat, what you get here is about as far removed from a drunken post-pub snack as possible.
Beyond a handful of restaurants, several books, a regular Guardian column and the now-guaranteed presence of zaatar in every self-respecting middle-class larder, Yotam Ottlolenghi has spawned a generation of professional chefs. Ramael Scully is one of these, now plying his trade under a restaurant in his own surname. If his mentor became famed for successfully combining genuinely eclectic ingredients from across the Middle East, then Scully goes one step further. Scully is a celebration of joyful and inventive cooking…
For a mid-market restaurant looking to tick all the right boxes, look no further than Delamina. Like many of the eateries of Tel Aviv from where the team behind this venture hail, the atmosphere is distinctly informal, but buzzing with life. Food-wise, the emphasis is on healthy and nutritious, combining the freshness of produce from the Mediterranean with the spiciness and cooking techniques (especially grilling and roasting) of the Middle East. If the Palomar and the Barbary led the way in this respect, then Delamina represents a natural evolution...
Crocker’s Folly was my local boozer when I first moved to London.. When the venue reopened as a restaurant in 2014. I visited and was highly disappointed by the service, uninspiring food and poor value for money. With some time having elapsed, a return trip was merited. In summary, Crocker's remains as stunning as ever, while the menu now has a dedicated Middle Eastern focus. The combination of opulent Victorian architecture and Lebanese-style food may seem like an incongruous one, but it kind-of works.
Nestled in the centre of Old Town Hastings, Isabella is a restaurant that ticks all the boxes – lovely atmosphere, great food, friendly service and wonderful value for money. Much like the vibe of the town, the charm of the restaurant is in how despite the seemingly eclectic and disorganised nature of the place, the end-result hangs together perfectly.
The title says it all. The restaurant has few redeeming features and serves very average Middle Eastern food at a Mayfair mark-up. Service was among the most gauche I had witnessed recently. And, the lamp fittings are so badly designed that almost every customer in the place seemed to bang their head on them.
Let’s be brutal and to the point: if you are in the Paddington area and want to eat Middle Eastern food, just hop on any bus or walk 15 minutes until you hit the Edgware Road, where a broad spectrum of excellent, authentic and well-priced options exists. In other words, don’t go to Massis – an over-priced and disappointing alternative located in the Paddington Basin development, offering a poor imitation of cuisine from the region.
For those not familiar with the lower end of the Edgware Road, which heads north from Marble Arch, it is home to the largest Arab population in London. Unsurprisingly, therefore, it is crammed full of restaurants purveying food from across the Middle East. Having been a resident in the area for close on twenty years, I have sampled food from many of the establishments here and have also, separately, been lucky enough to have travelled across quite a lot of the Middle Eastern region for work. In my humble – and obviously subjective – opinion, the Beirut Express beats almost all the competition. It is certainly the best on the Edgware Road.
With the iconic but still rather scary Trellick Tower in spitting distance and the roar of the Westway just yards away, you would not naturally expect to find culinary heaven, or at least a very good version of it.
I was lucky enough to be one of the early visitors to the Palomar and loved it the first time I went and also on every subsequent visit. Day or night, counter or table, it never failed to impress. Indeed, getting a booking there now is notoriously difficult.
As a seasoned London restaurant-goer, it is relatively rare, but nonetheless highly pleasurable, that when leaving an establishment after eating I was smiling from ear-to-ear, struggling to find enough superlatives to praise the place and thinking that I needed to make my next reservation as soon as possible.
For anyone in search of something a little new and different – but also very good, fresh, healthy and innovative – then a visit to dindin is a must. On our way to the restaurant, my comrade and I discussed how much the London dining scene had changed in the last ten years, becoming much more varied and definitely better as a result.
Kateh is a restaurant specialising in Persian food, located in Little Venice down a quaint side-street, on a site formerly occupied by the Green Olive. My dining comrade and I had been meaning to go for some time, it being local and also having being recommended by a Persian friend.
Despite the somewhat incongruous location of not-quite Belgravia/ the fringes of Victoria, a trip to Noura is definitely worthwhile. Both the food and the service were top notch.
Go here for the food, not the atmosphere. Maroush (and indeed many of its peers) on the Edgware Road work superbly well not just because of the food but also because of the atmosphere. I (and I would imagine many other ‘western’ diners) go here because of its authenticity: the clientele is predominantly Middle Eastern, the conversation lively, the pace frenetic and the whole experience somewhat akin to being thrust into a much more local environ.