Is it possible that a restaurant can become a local rite of passage in only a few short months? Well this neighbourhood restaurant on Rosslyn Hill in Hampstead has been quietly building up a legion, neigh, army of loyal fans who come for its modern Middle Eastern food, warm, all-inclusive atmosphere and stylish décor. We dined on a Thursday night, the whole night was buzzing, every table was full and it felt as though half the room were life-long friends who just happened to run into on another at the table over.
Hailing from Tel Aviv, Israeli-born executive chef, Or Golan, has worked in some of Tel Aviv’s famed restaurants including Brasserie M&R, before moving to London where he became Yotam Ottolenghi’s head chef.
The ‘Newish Jewish’ kosher menu is influenced not only by Golan’s mentors, but by his Moroccan and Lebanese grandparents. The menu is extensive and the portion sizes are dangerously generous. Spread across Sharing Plates, Land and Sea, Sides and Sweets, our eyes were bigger than our bellies and we opted for 5 sharing plates between two. This was ambitious even for the big eaters that we are.
What arrived was nothing short of miraculous. Turkish lahmajun meat pizza was topped with spiced lamb mince, jeweled with pomegranate and drizzled with tahini. It was everything and more. Shakshukit with Moroccan merguez, a take on shakshuka is a dish I want to eat for breakfast, brunch, lunch and if there is still room, ‘linner’. The Tanned aubergine with tahini, figs and mixed nuts was an utter vision on a plate full of smokiness reminiscent of Baba ghanoush but with all the right textures in each moutful.
Probably the most simple, yet the complete standout dish of the night however; Hummus with confit lamb and crackling. So good Moses would part the red sea for a plate of it. I doubt there is a better hummus outside of Tel Aviv, and when laced with thin strips of lamb and crunchy crackling I am sure there isn't.
Whilst we didn’t have the appetite left, the deserts looked intriguing. The wine list is short but precise. We were recommended a blush Provence rosé and it didn’t disappoint, was light and easy to drink in the prime of this August heatwave.