Need more Levantine food in your life? Then run, don't walk, to Bubala in Soho.
Or if you're just after the classics, check out our all-time best restaurants in London list.
What's the deal?
While London may not be short of quality Israeli addresses, the Palomar – a counter restaurant in Soho serving sharing plates from the Levant – is top of the pile, and could probably be credited with precipitating the city’s obsession with Israeli food. So Tomer Amedi – ex-Palomar chef – has a long shadow to step out from as he takes on head cheffing duties at newly-relaunched Pascor. Located on Kensington High Street, it’s being billed as a “Levantine fire kitchen” (i.e. serving food cooked on an open flame) and neighbourhood restaurant.
The old Pascor was a broadly Aegean affair, serving a mishmash of dishes from Bulgaria, Serbia, Turkey and Greece. The melting-pot theme evidently didn’t catch on, because this retool comes only a year after the restaurant’s original opening. And, with a modern Levantine menu designed by a former chef at a big-name restaurant, they’re clearly trying to align themselves with what’s hot in London in 2022.
The space – right on busy Kensington High Street – is a bit bare bones, decorated sparsely with plants and exposed brick. The focus here is really on the food, which consists of a relatively tidy tapas menu that’s divided under three headers: “Sea”, “Land”, and “Garden”. If you’re dining for two, the best course of action is to start with the warm Yemani challah bread, then order two dishes from each section. While there are some standouts – the mushroom hummus is genuinely delicious – most of the dishes are more “good” than “amazing”. That’s not necessarily a diss – this is a place you can go for a relaxed weeknight meal and know, in terms of quality, that you’ll get a good return for your money. If you ever find yourself at the museums of Kensington, as well, this is a great spot for a pre- or post-gallery lunch or dinner. So it's not necessarily the next Palomar – but Amedi is forging his own path, and that’s no bad thing.
What should I eat?
Sweet, pillowy challah bread is always a winner, and Pascor’s Yemeni version is smoked in a charcoal oven, then served warm and ready to tear with za’atar butter and an intriguing, nutty smoked black tahini, made from black sesame seeds.
No Israeli meal would be complete without the Holy Grail of Levantine produce, the aubergine. Pascor’s burnt aubergine “steak” is a tasty riff on the menu mainstay, dripped with that same black tahini and sprinkled with pine nuts, pickled tomatoes, mint, and capers.
Though naysayers may say it’s not technically hummus, the mushroom hummus is probably the best thing on the menu, blended with a butter lima bean cream base, asparagus and wild mushrooms, it’s surprising, indulgent, and delicious.
Why should I go?
For a safe neighbourhood option on Kensington High Street.
221 Kensington High St, London W8 6SG