Last Updated on May 1, 2021
Brunch, cocktails and sunshine
Chameleon London is a brand new restaurant offering post-lockdown outdoor dining in the aptly named God’s Garden at the Grade-I listed One Marylebone. This is the place to go for cocktails and a Tel Avivian meze brunch or dinner in a beautiful churchyard garden.
One Marylebone is based at the old Holy Trinity Church, which was designed by Sir John Soane and built in 1826 to celebrate the defeat of Napoleon.
We were lucky to visit on a sunny afternoon but the venue is well equipped with canopies, brollies and space heaters to deal with downpours and grey weather. Any worries about traffic noise drifting into the garden from the busy Marylebone Road were quickly dispelled. The road was almost completely masked by music. The DJ, live band and a glamorous roaming violinist provided a great soundtrack to our afternoon at Chameleon.
Sitting in the sun against a backdrop neo-classical architecture brought to mind aperitivo hour in Italy so it seemed imperative to order an Aperol Spritz. Chameleon’s version is one of the best I’ve had in London. My dining companion was in the mood for something non-alcoholic to start so was pleased to find a decent list of grown-up soft drinks on the menu. She opted for the Elderflower Momo Kombucha and loved it. She would later be drawn back to the “real” cocktail menu and tried the Lychee and Rose Bellini, a well-balanced mix of poached lychee, lychee syrup, Lanique rose and prosecco.
Cocktails in hand, we were ready for our meze brunch. First to arrive were the dips. There are eight on the brunch menu, all of them tempting. We relied on our helpful and knowledgeable waiter to narrow them down and he recommended the Zhug, Matbuch and Smoked Pumpkin. All were excellent. It’s difficult to choose a favourite but I couldn’t stop dipping my bread into the Matbuch, a deeply flavoured Moroccan spicy tomato stew. The zhug served with creme fraiche was a fresh, green delight and the smoked pumpkin was smooth and moreish. Our bread basket – containing a small challah loaf and slices of olive and sesame sourdough – was generous for two and kept us going until we’d polished off the dips.
We then ventured into the plates section of the brunch menu, again guided by our waiter. Our only hot dish was the Lamb Spare Ribs. Slow-cooked in a stock of sweet and smoky urfa chili, the meat was falling off the bone, tender and rich. It was served with sweet potato, charred to the point of caramelisation, offset by the green of the broccoli.
We were struck by the unusual but highly successful flavour combinations of the tuna sashimi. It is served here with a heady mix of juicy baby carrots, crunchy buckwheat, harissa, yuzu, paprika and aioli. Delicious.
Again, the Aubergine Carpaccio was packed with flavour and texture, combining everything from crispy onion and goat’s cheese to tahini and pistachios.
Slightly less successful was the Chopped Chicken Liver served with cured egg yolk, dates, pistachio and slivers of sesame toast. The dish was still good to eat but neither of us was taken with the salty, slightly glutinous egg.
There was no way we weren’t going to try Chameleon’s desserts. I chose the Israeli Mille Feuille, best described as a very large, very posh take on baklava. The dish was completed with a smooth pistachio ice cream and cubes of lightly roasted white peach. My companion was tempted by the Manjari Chocolate Cremeux. This was luxurious and gooey and came with a chocolate crumb and a sesame tuile both adding texture plus a subtle cardamom coffee ice cream.
Chameleon is a lovely new addition to London’s outdoor restaurant scene. It’s a great spot to enjoy a well-made cocktail and a table covered in good food to share. It is also worth noting that dog-owners are welcome to bring their pets along to brunch in God’s Garden.
From 21 May visitors will also be able to dine in one of Chameleon’s nine bespoke greenhouses each seating from four to 30 guests. Chameleon is currently open for Dinner⠀Wednesday through to Saturday and for brunch (dog-friendly!) on Saturdays and Saturday⠀⠀
1 Marylebone Road,
0207 186 2444
For more dining options in Marylebone, check our roundup and click through to read more about any Marylebone restaurants that you like the look of