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A kosher gem with real staying power

New venture Delicatessen offers a masterclass in Jewish cuisine

29 June, 2018 — By Tom Moggach

Vegetarians will have no complaints at Delicatessen with options such as this aubergine and fig dish

DECENT kosher restaurants have been scarce in this city – even in Jewish areas such as Golders Green and Stamford Hill.

But Jewish and Middle Eastern cuisine has surged in popularity in recent years, fuelled by chef Yotam Ottolenghi and cult restaurants such as The Palomar in the West End and Zest in Finchley Road.

Delicatessen, a new venture in Hampstead, offers a masterclass in this style of cooking – and uses only kosher ingredients.

Service is slick and friendly.

“Who would have thought that Israeli food would kick off?” mused the manager, ushering us to our table.

Delicatessen opened in Rosslyn Hill in December after a stint trading in Swiss Cottage. The head chef, Or Golan, who once worked for Ottolenghi, has Lebanese and Moroccan grandparents and describes his shtick as modern Middle Eastern soul food.

The venue is one large dining room, with a few extra seats outside. Décor is minimal, with a jigsaw of wooden wine boxes on one wall serving as upcycled shelves.

The restaurant was crackling with energy. “We’re fully booked every night,” says our waitress, talking us through the menu.

The dishes are divided into smaller sharing plates, priced £6.50-£12, and much larger mains.

Our hummus was unremarkable but a lamb dish was divine: minced spiced meat rolled in a thin pastry cigar then deep fried until crisp and flaky.

A seabream carpaccio was a remarkable and moreish dish, quite unlike anything I’ve tried before.

Slivers of fish are smothered under a green sea of chopped flatleaf parsley with cashews for crunch, chilli for heat and black truffle lending its musky aroma.

Vegetarians are spoilt for choice, with options such as tanned aubergine with nuts and figs, golden cauliflower, green falafel, mushroom casserole and a wheat broth.

We rated their “Really crunchy salad”, which dazzled from a rainbow of sliced vegetables, pumpkin and pomegranate seeds – like a bowl of crudités that we ate with our fingers.

Main courses are vast, so you might want to skip them, focusing instead on ordering more smaller plates to share.

We had ordered spring chicken with sumac, za’atar and rose petals, but it was less thrilling than the mezze-style dishes before.

Take a moment to explore the large kosher wine list. Israeli winemakers have upped their game and it’s rare to see so many vintages gathered on one list.

You’ll need to reserve for Delicatessen, as drop-ins are often forced to wait. The outdoor tables are a dream on a balmy evening.

On our visit, most of the customers were Jewish – with two tables celebrating birthdays.

Note that prices are on the steep side. The cheapest main course is a chicken salad for £19; the deluxe bone marrow and rib eye burger is a whopping £24.

Yet this is Hampstead, after all, where rents for prime locations must be eye-watering.

Restaurants often struggle to keep afloat. But Delicatessen looks in good shape – I reckon it’s a stayer.

Delicatessen
46 Rosslyn Hill, NW3
020 7700 5511
www.delicatessen.company

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