★★★★ | Tabun Kitchen – Soho, an excellent new and healthy choice in Soho!
Berwick Street is known for its famous market, but soon it’s going to be known as the street where Tabun Kitchen is.
Located midway between the market and Oxford Street, Tabun Kitchen is a beacon of light on an otherwise dreary block. It will be the food that will lure you in, and it will keep you going back for more.
It’s hard to put into words just how delicious the food is at Tabun. There are so many spices, ingredients, elements, and surprises in the food that you’re not exactly sure what you’re eating but then you don’t care because you’ve never experienced these tastes before – Jerusalem Street Food. It’s owner, Hanan Kattan, grew up in a Palestinian household, and she incorporates the ‘Tabun’ oven into the architecture (and cooking) of her restaurant to bring to Soho a unique and flavorful eating experience.
The menu is quite big and varied so it’s hard to recommend a dish or two as I’ve only been there once (I plan to go back a couple more times actually). Its menu recommends dishes to share; a good idea as it will give you twice as much of a taste of their extremely varied dishes. Our mezze plates were out of this world; the Maftool Cous Cous Salad was a mix of peppers, spring onions, a hint of chilli, coriander, pomegranate dressing and included lamb sausage. The Moutabal Smoked Aubergine Dip was a delicious pomegranate garnish and flatbread croutons sprinkled with thyme. Both are rewarded five stars each! Next time I will try the Jerusalem Falafel and the Jerusalem style dip with cumin spiced fava beans. And to top it off none of these mezze plates are more than £5! Bargain!
For mains, again, it’s hard to pick from the traditional and grills menus. We had the mixed grill – chicken kofta, shish taouk marinated chicken kabob, lamb kofta with warm artichoke with an egg lookalike dollop of white creamy garlic with yellow coloured very spicy yolk. It’s a flavorful dish, sprinkled with parsley. While the meat is cooked just right, and at £14 not a bad deal, I could’ve eaten more meat! My companion ordered, from the pizza menu, the Manaeesh Palestinian pizza (dough topped with white cheese, sundried tomatoes and olives and a bit of ground meat). Palestinian pizza, as you might know, is thin, wet and soggy. My dining companion enjoyed it, however, I wish he would’ve ordered something more exotic like either the Lamb Three Ways, Musakhan Chicken (with caramelised onions and pine nuts), Grilled Prawns or even the Vegetable Makloubeh – with rice, spiced aubergine, cauliﬂower and broad beans, yoghurt, cucumber and mint sauce, pistachios, pine nut & raisin garnish – it sounds heavenly – and I’m having this next time! The mains and grills are all under £14 while the pizzas are a snip at £8.50. Also, If you want to try a wrap, there are five to choose from: Chicken, Falafel, Cheese and Lamb, all at a friendly price of £8.50.
Tabun has a huge sides menu to choose from; dishes that will complement your mains. We tried two and they were, while complete opposites, both extremely wonderful. The Avocado Salad – chopped avocado with tomato, coriander with lemon and garlic sauce – was just what you would expect – amazing (£5). And the Za’atar french fries, dusted with thyme spice mix, came with Toum (garlic) sauce (£3.50) – amazing! Also on the menu are pickles, olives, aubergines, hummus, kale salad and the always reliable tabbouleh Salad. But the Avocado Salad and the French Fries were perfection!
And finally, puddings are a must. The Harisa Cake – semolina cake with coconut and orange blossom syrup – was divine. The Baklava selection, as you would expect, was also delicious and enough to put you over the top. But if you want to try something new – try the Jerusalem Knafe – cheese pastry soaked in sweet, sugar-based syrup. It’s extremely heavy yet very good, and I would recommend you sharing this with your dining companions because it is very filling. All cheaply priced at £5 each.
Tabun Kitchen has a good white and red wine, rosé and beers and spirits and soft drinks choices, but go for one of the cocktails. The Tabun Mojito – beefeater gin, tonic water, fresh mint leaves, lemon and rosewater – was very thirst quenching and absolutely tasteful, while the Orange Sunset – Vodka, aperol, agave syrup, with freshly squeezed orange juice – was sweet and yet had the right amount of vodka in it. The Spice Trip – rum, orange juice, chilli and watermelon juice – and the pomegranate bellini – are both on my must have list.
Tabun Kitchen seats 45 people comfortably, both on the ground floor and in the basement. The front room of the ground floor is hot – it’s where the oven is – and on the night of my visit the front door had to be kept open, but then it got too cold, so it was closed again, then it was too hot. I hope Tabun is able to sort this problem out. And one of our dishes didn’t arrive so we had to remind the wait staff, all of whom are very pleasant and nice, what we had ordered. I recommend sitting in the lower ground floor; it’s quant, Mediterranean-style, and very cosy that’s perfect if you’re looking for a place to enjoy the food without being in the hustle and bustle and heat of the main room. Faisel, the charming manager, will take you through the menu if you have any questions. And while the pizza was not sexy and the service a bit disjointed, Tabun Kitchen will not disappoint. It’s warm food and cooking style and abundant fresh and delicious flavours will blow you away.
Reviewed by: Tim Baros
Telephone: 020 7324 7767
Address: 77 Berwick St Soho, London W1F 8TH
Mon – Sat: 12:00 pm – 12:00 am
PRICE: ££ (explained)
STAR: ★★★★ (explained)