So when the Life of Shayan get happy with one place they like to go again. You will all know how happy I was with The Palomar, therefore when I found out that they had a little brother, I had to go.
The Barbary is slightly hidden in Neal's Yard and having just launched, I only recently saw the shining lights. The lights caught my eye and from there, when given the opportunity, I went. Having won the Lottery recently, I have a lot of money to spend, so I just go out as much as possible.
I did not book so went immediately after work. I was lucky to get there early as we managed to get two seats by the bar and shortly after I heard the waiter tell someone it would be a 2 hour wait. Early Bird...!
The Palomar is influenced by Israel and middle eastern influence and here, "The Barbary menu reflects the countries from the Atlantic Coast through to the Mediterranean Sea leading to Israel. All these countries have rich culinary traditions. This culinary heritage is about seasonality – food available at that moment from that piece of land, cooked in the most pure way, with fire, whether it was grilling on coals or baking in ancient clay ovens in the middle of the village.
That is the basis of the Barbary: some history, a little bit of romance and a Kitchen Bar."
As you can tell, most of these words are from The Barbary themselves. It was these words and the history of The Palomar that got me there.
How was my experience of The Barbary?
Very Good - think Barrafina and then take it a bit further east and this is The Barbary. The delights that made The Palomar really good are brought here in more Tapas form. The menu offers very little in terms of detail into what you are getting, but sat at the bar, you see from other diners what looks good and therefore what to get.
The open bar/kitchen entices you and excites you. With full view of the chefs in action, foodies are in heaven as it gives you a nice insight the busy nature of the kitchen service. What really pleased me was seeing how much attention and care the team put, not only into the food but also to make sure that we were looked after by the waiting staff.
The food matches the service and experience. Energetic, vibrant and packing punch.
The only dish which maybe wasn't as spectacular was the Jerusalem Bagel. I'm only picky because the people need to know. It was tasty and fluffy but didn't really add much. We should have gone for their Naan-e-barbari instead as this would have worked better to mop up the Baba Ghanoush and Pumpkin dips.
These two dips were really great and provided us with our garlic fix for the evening. The two were good light dishes which were seasoned perfectly and if we had more, I am sure we would have gobbled them up too.
The rest of the menu is broken up between Sea, Land and Earth and with not too many options, you don't worry about missing out on too much. We went for a dish from each section as we were not overly hungry, but wanted to sample as many delights as possible.
From the Sea section we ordered Octopus. For Land we went with the Lamb Cutlets (above) and Earth, the Tender stem Broccoli and Black Tahini. Looking at other diners plates we were confident we had chosen well. However, I still had food envy when I saw the special of monkfish sandwiched between puff pastry. These innovations and experiments are frequent occurrences and the menu does get updated, so you have reasons aplenty to come back.
The dishes individually were really good. The black tahini and asparagus was a subtle dish, the sesames were roasted lightly so it doesn't become too bitter. We used our bagel to mop up most of the Tahini and this became a third dip for us. The broccoli like the Tahini had a brief char and was light seasoning. Simple but well worked.
The Octopus was the opposite of the Broccoli dish and had a lot going on. Chickpeas and a tangy sauce were guests alongside the meaty tentacle. The sauce at times became quite overpowering, which in itself was part of the intrigue and allure to keep on tasting it.
Finally, a star dish of The Barbary was the Lamb Cutlet. Two big meaty pieces of Lamb surrounded generously by fat was lit on fire by the chef. A spectacle which wowed Laura and I, as well as guests nearby. Once the fire had passed the fatty and meaty lamb cutlets were slowly devoured. The first initial bite was born out of excitement and hunger; thereafter these bites were smaller and more thoughtful as we were savouring every last bite.
This is the theme and how I think of the Barbary. Good little bites which you don't want to end. I would compare it very favourably with Barrafina and this should be recommendation enough. Taking the tapas style further east and bringing with it extra depth of flavours means once again that London is the food place to be. Thank you team for a great experience and awesome food.