The Fresser

Making a meal of Miznon

Eyal Shani's fast food concept has landed


Israel’s uber chef Eyal Shani, has finally landed in London. His Miznon concept opened 11 years ago and had reached Paris, Vienna, New York, Melbourne, Singapore and Boston before landing in Soho last month.

So, plenty of time for Shani’s London fans to build an appetite for his trademark vibrant veggies and fresh flavours.

The look is classic Miznon — utilitarian framework; blackboards scrawled with a rainbow of colourful messages; colourful Mediterranean-looking tiles plus counters lined with all manner of fresh produce. Shani’s signature cauliflowers lining the high bar facing out to the street outside.

Shani’s style is quirky — menus printed in retro Comic Sans font, packed with personification and slightly salacious descriptions that are more top shelf than top table. Don’t let that distract you — his cooking hits the spot.

The fast-food concept (open from midday to 11pm, seven days a week) was quiet on an August afternoon — a calm, air-conditioned oasis after the humid furnace of the Piccadilly line. The London kitchen brigade led by Mitchell Proctor were calmly going about their business at the grills.

Miznon’s menu (not kosher) has always been tailored to his host city. Signature foods of the local cuisine are translated into fillings for the puffiest pita breads in town. In Paris, Boeuf Bourguignon had them queuing out the portes.

What would he pick as classic London grub? We’re hardly famed for our epicurean elegance. Shani has cleverly taken inspo from three simple English classics.

Fish and chips — a combination with Jewish roots — has been morphed into a Middle Eastern buttie. It’s called Your first fish and chips in a pita, but I’d warrant it won’t be the first time many Brits will have sandwiched our chips between two slices of soft, fluffy bread.

There’s a souped-up spin on the All-day English breakfast — Steak and egg, Lima beans and spicy tomato sauce. And the ultimate comfort food, a cosy cottage pie. In. A. Pita.

These sit alongside Shani’s standards, including falafel, ratatouille and a lamb kebab.

It’s vegetarian and vegan heaven with a huge list of vegetable-based options — the bag of garlicky green beans; a simple bowl of tomatoes and broccoli ‘dripping onto your shoes’ (heaven forbid), those stewed Lima beans and ratatouille.

Although he was the first to serve up a whole roasted cauliflower it remains a showstopper — despite appearing now on multiple menus across the world — and had to be tried.

This was even better than the version I’d tried in Miznon at Sarona Market earlier this year. A salty, charred flavour explosion that I and my lovely dining companion pulled apart greedily. Manager Simon had told us “the chefs massage the cauliflowers every morning to make sure the flavours really get right into them”. Whatever it takes.

‘Naked tomatoes slaughtered in front of your eyes’ were less dramatic — a bowl of chunky wedges in various colours, dressed simply with olive oil and seasoning. Full of simple, seasonal flavour and served at the perfect (room) temperature for maximum taste.

Pita is as perfect as you’d expect — ideal perfect for scooping up creamy hummus and soft chickpeas. For me, the falafel lacked crunch, but I’ll let you be the judge of that. Pickles packed a punch.

Limited by appetite, we tasted a fraction of the menu, squeezing in a plate of soft, sugar-coated bananas shredded onto blobs of dulche de leche, liquid cream and crumbled biscuits.

Pop in for a speedy snack — there’ll be something for everyone.

Info: here

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