Ladies & Gentlemen, Boys & Girls, It’s Delicatessen, Hampstead

25 Aug 2018

The way London life is depicted through film is dangerous to the daydreamers of this world. I spent my childhood believing I would be living the Bridget Jones life in Borough Market, or in the middle of Notting Hill with a strange Welsh flatmate.

The reality of London life, well my London life, is Elephant and Castle with my younger brother who earns way more money than me. And the closest I’ve ever been to Hampstead Heath Julia Roberts style is Delicatessen on Rosslyn Hill, which is all Hampstead and no Heath.

The food from the Israeli restaurant Delicatessen is influenced by executive chef Or Golan’s Moroccan and Lebanese heritage, everything is designed for sharing and the recipes are what he describes as ‘Newish Jewish’, which really kicks off with the Yemenite kubaneh (£6.50), a dome of fluffy white bread which leaks heat as you break into it, the Bafta-winning flavour made it easy to forget to not eat it all.

The bowl of green falafel (£6.50) was as good as they would have been anywhere else in London; crunchy, soft and warm, but the tanned aubergine with tahini, figs and mixed nuts (£9) was all good looks and no talent, missing some sharpness or sweetness against the earthy flavour. I’m not quite sure what constitutes a tanned aubergine, how many hours the guy had spent in the sun, if he’d done both sides or just one, but the dish looked beautiful, served in a large pan with browns and purples complementing each other.

I love the sharing food, as romantic as my parents were, they would never be seen eating off the same plate, it certainly didn’t rub off on me, I’d have anything from anyone’s, neighbours, mates and enemies included. When it comes to wine, I’m happy to share that too, although the full-bodied 2014 Israeli Galil Yiron (£38) was hard to divide, making me feel like a superstar on the last second of their five minutes of fame unwilling to share the screen.

The sashimi grade bluefin tuna (£12) served with fennel, avocado and anchovy bruschetta was amazing. Just amazing. It deserved a fin-shaped print under a star on the Hollywood walk of fame and the huge plate of crispy mushrooms and chewy truffle gnocchi (£23) deserved nothing less than to be eaten the living heck out of. However, the dessert was more of an outtake, with the dry basbousa sponge cake (£8.50) feeling un-rescued by raspberry and lemon coulis and the dairy-free passion fruit malabi (£7) made with coconut milk feeling like it had no business being dairy free.

I’m not a film star, but for one night only ,some of the very best dishes at Delicatessen made me feel like none of this was real life, so the only thing left to say is: mum, dad, the fans and of course the Academy I couldn’t have done this without you. Thank you and goodnight.


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