Rock and I are standing in a queue, waiting for The Barbary to open its doors. We’ve had to come early not only to ensure we get in, you can’t book, but also because we are going to the theatre later. The Barbary takes its inspiration from the food of the North African Barbary Coast. It is the sister restaurant to The Palomar in Soho that we visited about a year ago and loved.
The doors open and we are led into the restaurant which has a u-shaped kitchen bar at the centre. Diners sit on bar stools and watch as their food is being prepared. The area inside the bar is a hive of activity as chefs, grills and ovens all work together to create fabulous smells and flavours. I think this is going to be extraordinary….
Also behind the bar is Esther, who cheerfully takes us through the menu, explains how everything works and delivers my Fevertree ginger beer. Once we know what we are having – it is great fun to follow each dish as it goes under the grill or into the oven. Food is served as soon as it is ready.
Arayes – grilled pitta pockets filled with lamb & beef, onion and various herbs arrive with a tahini dip. Ashkenazi chicken liver is like a coarse paté served with spring onion and a strip of pickled gherkin. Pata Negra neck is a fillet of chargrilled pork that comes with ras el hanout, baked confit garlic and date honey. Terry’s Tirshy is a fabulous dish of sweet pumpkin dressed with toasted almonds. Cauliflower jaffa style is a combination of deep-fried florets, tomato and lots more herbs and spices. We feast our way through all of this with a naan e Barbari – possibly one of the best naan breads I have ever eaten and cooked in the clay oven only three feet from where we are sitting.
If all of that was not enough, we still have time for dessert. We decide to share a combination of Medjool date ice cream and baklava. The baklava are beautiful and the ice cream is an ideal accompaniment. Fresh mint tea helps us to digest all this fantastic fare.
I thought this was going to be extraordinary….actually, it was better than that.