Delicatessen Restaurant – Modern Middle Eastern Cuisine
My diary is often something of a nightmare and I’m seldom free for press dinners. Sometimes I manage to find a volunteer from the London-Unattached team. At other times, I just hope that I’ll be able to review on another occasion. I was lucky with Delicatessen where I’d been invited a few weeks earlier on a date I simply couldn’t make. A modern Middle Eastern restaurant in Hampstead, Delicatessen is an informal cafe style restaurant where was warmly welcomed by Alex, the General Manager. Delicatessen Restaurant in its previous Swiss Cottage guise had been around for a while but was forced to close because of licencing issues. This rather swanky location on Rosslyn Hill is relatively new and only opened in December 2017. Despite that, it was packed on the evening we arrived; thanks to London’s heatwave, swapping our indoor table for one on the small pavement terrace involved some negotiation.
We started with water and a bottle of Herzog Lineage Chardonnay, a Clarksburg from Yolo County, Central Valley, California. I hadn’t realised until this point that the restaurant is entirely Kosher. That includes the wine – according to Wiki that means
Sabbath-observant Jews must supervise and sometimes handle the entire winemaking process, from the time the grapes are crushed until the wine is bottled and any ingredients used, including finings, must be kosher
A lovely light Chardonnay with notes of white peach, we both thoroughly enjoyed it.
The menu at Delicatessen offers a choice of starters and main courses or sharing plates. Dining with the Pescatarian Hedonist, we opted for the latter, with one meat plate to fulfil my carnivorous desires.
My choice was a winner and I was rather pleased not to be sharing the beef carpaccio with truffles and artichoke salsa. It was quite herby, topped with a tabbouleh, mushrooms and pine nuts with the result that the truffle was rather overpowered. But, still a dish I’d happily order again with meltingly thin slices of beef complemented beautifully by the mushrooms
Yemenite Kubaneh was a light, round loaf of soft sweetened bread. On the side — tiny pots of tahini, fried peppers and a grated tomato herby paste.
The tanned aubergine with tahini, figs and mixed nuts, seasoned with sumac was beautifully smokey with a superb mix of textures and flavours.
Sashimi grade bluefin tuna came with fennel, avocado and anchovy bruschetta. The majority went the way of the pescatarian Hedonist who had been deprived of the beef carpaccio. He confirmed it was a perfect summer salad with freshly seared tuna complemented by a creamy dressing and soft yolked egg.
When a simple ingredient like the potato becomes a star dish, you know you are in good hands. Here, the curiously named hand pulled chips with herbs and mustard mayo were crispy moreish morsels which my colleague described as ‘roast potatoes that have gone over to the dark side’. Whatever, we both agreed it would have been worth visiting just for a plate of these. Though that’s not to undermine the other dishes.
Golden cauliflower with tahini and smoked chilli was another ‘transformative’ dish which somehow made a feast out of simple ingredients
The green falafel with tahini was an intensely vegetal falafel complemented by a creamy tahini.
In the interests of research only, we went on to share a mille-feuille dessert between us. A mixture of filo type pastry with a non-dairy, kosher creme anglais and strawberries it was delicious – if only we’d actually wanted to eat anything more at this stage.
Just as one of the best accolades for a vegetarian or vegan restaurant is that a carnivore like me doesn’t miss the meat, here, the same benchmark should be true when applied to Kosher cuisine. It’s not anything where I have an expert knowledge. I’ve only once before eaten in a strict Kosher restaurant and I have to confess I remember the food being bland and rather tasteless. I do remember trying to prepare Kosher food for a strict Jewish friend and despairing. But, here, no one will be disappointed – the food is a veritable kaleidoscope of colours and flavours and it would be hard to find fault with anything we were served. This is an excellent restaurant to try a variation on the kind of modern Middle Eastern cuisine popularised by Ottolenghi. Executive chef Or Golan spent some time working for him and the resulting offer at Delicatessen is well worth a visit.
46 Rosslyn Hill, Hampstead, London NW3 1NH