Living in central London, with a lot of great restaurants in my doorstep, I rarely venture outside of zone 1 for dinner.
Therefore, I rarely find myself in Hampstead, which is a real shame as it’s such a lovely little pocket of London, with restaurants to match.
Case in point – Delicatessen.
A hidden gem of a restaurant, with white-washed walls, wooden tables and a little ‘je ne sais quoi’ (we are at the heart of French London after all!) making it utterly charming.
And it’s not one of those ‘style-over-substance’ sort of place – no surprise here considering Delicatessen is headed by former Ottolenghi head chef Or Golan.
Offering a fully-kosher menu, Delicatessen defines itself as a place to explore modern middle-eastern rich & diverse culinary culture and the mezze-style starters are an excellent reflection of the restaurant’s bold and colourful style of cooking.
In true middle-eastern style, they’re designed to be shared – which in my opinion is the absolute best as it gives you an excuse to order up a feast.
Highlights included the Golden cauliflower, served with tahini, nuts & smoked chilli.
Mini salt beef schnitzels with kohlrabi salad.
Hummus loaded with confit lamb and crackling.
Some absolutely divine sea bass carpaccio with loads of herbs and nuts, and a tiny bit of truffle oil.
And a delightful, still-warm Yemenite kubaneh bread to mop it all up before moving on to mains!
A lot to love amongst the larger plates as well – for example a delightfully moist chicken thigh shawarma plate, pilled high with seared laffa, sumac onions and pea shoots.
Seared duck breast with celeriac puree, heritage carrots and glaze sauce – as moreish as it is photogenic.
My favourite dish of them all: chicken meatballs with fresh globe and Jerusalem artichokes and lemon.
Not quite as photogenic but when the chef himself has an artichoke tattooed on his forearm, you know you’re onto a winner – and a winner it was indeed!
Chicken pastilla – a timeless classic.
And of course, this beast of a mixed grill with chicken thighs, kebabs, lamb chops, merguez & rib eye steak, plus bone marrow and grilled veggies thrown in for good measure.
The menu says it’s for 2 people (!!) but in my opinion, it can easily feed 4, making the £70 price point much more appropriate.
The Israeli-oriented wine list is also full of little gems, like this veeeeeery easy to drink Dalton Canaan white, which we were recommended to have with the mezze, but I found lovely alongside the meatier dishes too.
Dessert in middle eastern restaurants can sometimes feel like an after-thought. But not at Delicatessen, where the team is working hard to offer a wide range of dairy-free options.
They’re not all succesful (the chocolate mousse was very much not my thing).
But the malabi (pictured above) and the basbousa (semolina) cake are both great proof that vegan puds have nothing to envy to their dairy-filled counterparts.
And if like me, you rarely venture in Hampstead, that last one alone is almost enough to make your way there… But once you’re there, you might as well have it all (and then some!)