Ever since eating at the Palomar last year, I’ve been looking for an opportunity to go back. The news that The Palomar had opened a smaller, sister restaurant focused my plans to find an opportunity to get back down to London.
What excites me about the Barbary is how everyone gets a chance to watch what is going on in the kitchen. When we went to the Palomar I spent the evening jealous of those booked at the bar, here everyone has a seat at the bar. The only problem is that you see everything cooking and dishes being delivered to people around the bar and you get food envy. I desperately wanted to try everything.
I arrived early evening on the Friday. You can’t book a table at The Barbary and having travelled down from York I was keen to ensure a table. Waiting for Mr Frivolitea gave me chance to look at the drinks menu. Having spotted a Sauvignon Blanc from Israel, I ordered a glass. Wow. I usually choose Sauvignon Blanc but this was superb.
The menu is set out creatively with baking and grinding, land, sea, earth and heaven. We tried to choose something from every section and a special so that we could get a real feel for the type of food they were serving but ended up missing out the sea section as there was so much to choose from. The focus of the Barbary, as its name suggests, is food from the Barbary Coast and the placemat at your seat has a wonderful map to help you identify the places the food comes from.
The savoury dishes we had were: Naan e Barbari
Jerusalem Bagel ( with a little packet of Za’tar)
Tbecha roasted tomatoes
Zhug, harissa, burnt and pickled chilli
Cauliflower Jaffa style
Andalusian Pincho Maruno
Everything was packed full of flavour and the meat,cooked over grill, was so succulent. It is difficult to say which is my favourite as everything stood out in its own right. The Zhug (Yemenite hot sauce with coriander and parsley) was a real surprise and something I’m definitely going to learn how to make.
The dessert section had one of my favourite desserts knafeh. They call the dessert section heaven. It’s an accurate description. We also chose the halva ice cream to go with it. The perfect partnership!
One thing that really stood out for me was how much is achieved in such a small space. The staff are attentive and helpful and the chefs create stunning dishes whilst engaging with everyone around them. My advice is go to the Barbary and if you have to queue, queue. When we left the wait was two hours long but people waited. That’s a sign that somewhere is worth going.