A look inside… The Palomar

The Palomar does things differently. With the volume knob cranked up to 11, chefs have been known to break into an impromptu percussion performance on the pots and pans in the restaurant’s open kitchen behind the 16-seater bar.

Having only been open a matter of months, a buzz has already built around the Soho newcomer, which has fast become the latest hot ticket in town making it impossible to secure a bar stool in the evenings due to its no bookings policy. Bookings can however be made for the 34-seater restaurant at the back, along with a one-off 5:30pm pre-theatre booking at the bar.

The restaurant sprung to life after the brother and sister behind The End and AKA nightclubs; Zoe and Layo (of DJ duo Layo and Bushwacka fame) Paskin took a trip to Jerusalem for a brainstorming session as to what their next professional move should be. Working as general manager of Hawksmoor Spitalfields at the time, Zoe agreed to go on the trip so long as they visited their favourite restaurant in town and one of the hippest restaurants in Israel – the boisterous, free-spirited Machneyuda.

Zoe and Layo Paskin

A mutual friend put in a good word for them with the restaurant’s three owners and it soon became apparent that there was a mutual desire to open a new venture in a key European city: Paris, Berlin or London.

At the time all were undecided. “I loved the spirit and energy of Machneyuda, which stayed with me long after I left Jerusalem,” the bewitchingly blue-eyed Zoe begins, adding, “It was serendipitous that we should have chosen Jerusalem as the place to plot our next move.”

Having spent a lot of time in the city due to Layo’s DJing gigs and coming from a Jewish family, exploring Israeli cuisine seemed a natural fit for the pair.

Settling on central London over Paris and Berlin, the initial idea was to start out with a pop-up in order to gauge interest, though all involved were willing to take a leap of faith and open a permanent site.

While keen for the restaurant to have its own identity, it made sense to migrate a number of the star dishes from Machneyuda across the pond. “There’s a growing trend for Levantine cuisine in London at the moment, but I wasn’t looking over my shoulder at what other people were doing. It’s great that we can be part of the movement shining a light on Middle Eastern cuisine but we didn’t set out to do it,” says Paskin.

Deliberately choosing a name unrelated to Jerusalem, having thrown a load of potential names into the ring, The Palomar (meaning the dovecote) stuck due to its timeless, slightly Mediterranean feel. Designed by Gundy & Ducker, the interiors, featuring wood panelling, royal blue leather banquettes and a skylight in the main restaurant, hark back to the golden age of air, sea and rail travel in the 1930s.

“My father is an architect so he helped us with the design. The travel idea hit a nerve as our trio of chefs had all ended up in Jerusalem from different parts of the world and the idea of bringing the Machneyuda concept back to London was important,” says Paskin.

One Response to “A look inside… The Palomar”

  1. Bertye Gluckstein says:

    We went last Friday night before theatre and loved it Woderful creativity combined with great tastes made this new eatery a welcome addition to the London food scene We will be back

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