Delamina

Bringing the boisterous fun of Israeli food to Marylebone, Delamina adds colours, flavours and textures to the foodie scene around Blandford Street.  Drawing upon the foods of the Levantine and beyond, its founders and food alike span a compilation of cultures and sub-cultures.  The creation of husband-and-wife team Limor and Amir Chen, also behind Shoreditch’s Strut & Cluck (which, incidentally, I’ve never actually  tried), Limor was born in Tel Aviv to a family of Russian and Iranian origins. The menu similarly draws upon generations of widespread immigrant communities, each adding their own twist and traditions.  Food that is the product of travel and tales always has a depth to it, both in its taste and backstories.

The restaurant’s design reflects the owners’ love of organic materials, found objects and collectables, and lots of greenery.  Very on trend.  We sat on the lower ground floor on a long sharing table where I was literally cocooned in a mountain of cushions adorning the bench.  Very cosy.  Also ideal seating for the theatre of the semi-open kitchen.

Speaking of the food, the menu is inspired by Limor’s father who, during her childhood, was a passionate cook and exposed her to the myriad flavours, herbs and spices of the region.  A self-taught chef, Limor’s intuitive approach to eating results in vibrant flavour-forward dishes, driven by a commitment to fresh produce.  This place is a haven for vegetarians with a menu focusing on vegecentric dishes dressed up in an array of spices and herbs.  From the long vegetables section of the menu, we ordered a selection of plates to share…

First came the Spicy Okra tempura (£6.75) and the Smokey Aubergine, Tahini and Zhoug (£6.75) served with the fluffiest and perfectly grilled pitta to dip.  Whilst the okra wasn’t to everyone palette, and for me was a little too batter-based, it’s nice to see the appearance of this little known lady-finger on a menu.  It could have probably done with a dip though – perhaps something like the tahini zhoug that arrived with the pitta which was the creamiest and most moreish Levantine dip I’ve tried in a while.  Utterly addictive.

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Next came the Charred Cauliflower (£13.00) served with lemon zest infused crème-fraiche, pomegranate molasses and seeds.  Akin with the cauliflower steak that’s making an appearance all over menus of late, the dish showcased the full wonders of the cauliflower.  The vegetable, including its outer leaves, seemed to have been both roasted and charred, and its blackened charred outer layers were definitely the best: smokey, chewy and a very nice complement to the tender inside. It’s also great to see the entire vegetable being cooked rather than wasted.

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We also shared the Grilled Courgettes Two Ways (£7.75), served with crispy onions, pine kernels and a labneh drizzle.  A nice take on courgette fritti, this dish was testament to why Middle Eastern foods – with all its dips, dressings and varied textures – is one of my favourites.

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And not to forget our final vegetable dish of the evening: the Salad of Avocado, Charred Brocollini, and Zat’aar spiced Gem Lettuce (£12.50), served with honey-roasted heritage carrots, crispy spicy chickpeas, quinoa and a urfa chilli and lemon dressing.  It’s always nice to have a fresh and light salad plate within a mezze to offset the heavier flavours and cooking of the other plates.

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All in all, the dishes painted a vibrant array though the sharing plates just weren’t big enough!  In our spirit of excitement, we probably over-ordered though.

Having said that, for afters, don’t miss out on the Parfait of Halva and Roasted Almonds (£6.50) served with date syrup and raw tahini drizzle: dates and tahini – need I say more?  The Seasonal Fruit Baked with Basil, Thyme, Oats and an Almond Crumble (£6.50) is also not to miss: herby, colourful and nutty, a crumble inspired by the East leaves you with a smile.

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Delamina complements the other restaurants and bars around Marylebone which now probably has something for everyone: Indian, Peruvian, Italian, a Daylesford thrown in for good measure, oh and plenty of wine bars…Yes, it’s a picture- and palette-perfect neighbourhood.

Delamina, 56-58 Marylebone Lane, London W1U 2NX

Rating: ****

Website: delaminamarylebone.co.uk  

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