I’m a bit picky with my nights out. With a 6.30am alarm (if I can stay asleep that long), a husband who leaves at 5.30am and living just outside of London, it all seems a bit much by the time darkness falls.
But I didn’t hesitate for a moment when Omer Shadmi and Daniel Zur invited me to their pop up at Marylebone restaurant, Carousel. I'd interviewed them the week before and was very taken with their positive attitude and spin on Middle Eastern favourites. (Read about them here.)
Carousel itself is a simple space on a quiet section of Blandford Street, just off Baker Street. Its owners — cousins Ollie, Ed, Will and Anna Templeton — have set up a home for a hand-picked host of guest chefs, workshops, art exhibitions, experiences and events.
It’s a great chance for London foodies to try menus from chefs we would otherwise not get to; and for those ambitious and creative guys and gals on the other side of the pass, it’s an opportunity to get their food out there.
Although they've worked overseas (Daniel cooked here in London at The Barbary for two years) both are currently based in Tel Aviv, so, unless you happen to be sabra-side, there’s little chance of getting to eat their food. They also don’t have their own place, so even less chance of tasting a menu devised by the two of them.
They are very much a double act and created the flavour-filled menu together, although they divide the dishes according to who shines in that area. The menu was an international mix of flavours, with a heavy Middle Eastern slant, served to the waiting masses — who were sitting at long tables — in a group. A chance to share the experience with other like-minded foodies, not that we spoke to anyone else.
I won’t run through the entire seven courses, but here are a few highlights.
Omer’s bagels — dusted with za’atar or coated a slick of crunchy sea salt — were eye-rollingly tasty. Served with tiny dishes of dark, green, spicy zhug and creamy tahini with grated tomatoes, we tore through them greedily. The Ashkenazi-style potato salad combining sweet, new season Jersey potatoes with a creamy coating of aioli, chives, pickled cucumber and soft boiled egg was equally comforting.
The zingy cured Cornish bream slathered in horseradish labneh with a side of the biggest parsley leaves we’d ever seen dressed paired up with crunchy radish slices and specks of chewy bulgur wheat. The recipe for this dish was in last week’s JC but I doubt my version would be a patch on theirs.
My stand-out favourite was the Cornish hake cooked confit style and served on a schmear of Marduma (a spicy tomato and pepper stew cooked to thick, spoonable texture) atop a slice of challah. Just about the best thing I’ve eaten this year. I could eat it every, single day. Super tasty.
Pudding was clever. A Middle Eastern slant on a the very English, sticky toffee pudding, which translated as a delicate slice of a darkly sweet cake, sweetened with date molasses, sprinkled with pine nuts and countered with a scoop of crème fraiche. Utterly delicious.
Miranda and her team were super knowledgeable on the food but also on the really interesting wine list. They try to include a fair few natural wines, and we were introduced (and educated on) to an orange wine from Madrid — Doré, from Rubén Diaz — and also sipped a taster of the same winery’s Escalera, a light red made from Garnacha grapes.
At the end of service, the very lovely Omer and Daniel came out to say hello and share how much they’ve been enjoying their residency. Me too!
It ends on February 29, so if they have any spare seats snap them up. This one’s too tasty to miss.
Booking info here