Today, T and I enjoyed an unexpected girl date. Last night, we decided to meet at Exmouth Market, near our old hood, Clerkenwell. Our plan was to hit Grind, which has just opened, and take advantage of their soft launch offer of 50% off, what’s not to love?
However, we couldn’t book a table and because of this, I discovered Berber&Q Shawarma bar. The original Berber&Q has had great reviews, so this seemed like the perfect choice. T got stuck on the district line so I called to let them know we’d be late. Given that we were thirty minutes late, our waitress was super accommodating, offering us seats at the window, at the bar or to wait on a table leaving. We decided to sit at the bar, as regular readers will know, it’s a fave of mine.
The menu specialises in Middle Eastern meats and flavours and, I can honestly say, it really did take me back to my trips to Tel Aviv. The restaurant is small and cosy, the perfect antidote to a grey winter’s day.
The menu is split into mezze, pitas, rice bowls, sides and shawarma. Oh, and hummus, how could I forget the hummus.
Our mezze choice was braised lentils, ufra roast pumpkin and charmoula ( a marinade of herbs, oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin and salt). The pumpkin was perfect, soft yet firm. The lentils were delicious. Toasted Chollah bread was perfect to soak up the sauce.
The writing on the wall says you can’t leave without trying a side of cauliflower shawarma, so we did. Roast cauliflower was everywhere last year, even I was making it, so I expected big things. It looked beautiful, covered in dried rose petals, parsley, pine nuts and jewels of pomegranate. Sadly, for me at least, it didn’t live up to expectations. Apart from the tahini coating, it was lacking in flavour.
From the hummus, we choose the Harif. This plate came with a grilled green chilli, harissa, tahini, Za’atar, sunblush tomato, and pickled red onion. A soft, fluffy pita was delivered in a paper bag. This is the best hummus and pita I have tasted outside of Tel Aviv. The combination of flavours and textures, a triumph.
Our lamb shawarma was piled high, served on tahina and with a generous salad of baby gem, mint, dill, parsley, sumac onions and pickles. Harissa was served on the side. We created wraps from the baby gem, the flavours were stunning. The lamb was beautifully cooked, soft, intense, chunks. Wrapped in lettuce or pita this is pretty special.
Now, we could have probably had one more dish but we decided to save space for dessert and, boy, were we glad we did.
There was only one option really as I’m not a fan of rice pudding or bread and butter pudding.Brownie with halva and tahini, was served with chocolate sauce and crème fraiche with candied orange peel.
The brownie was perfect, with just a hint of halva flavour in each bite. The chocolate sauce was lighter than I expected, slightly bitter, it’s perfect. Together with the thick crème fraiche, the flavours are wonderful together.
Berber&Q really did brighten up a grey winter’s day. I’m already looking forward to trying out the pitas on my next visit.