Peter Morrell and his wife enjoy traditional Palestinian hospitality in this warm and friendly restaurant
Tabun Kitchen has been inspired by the memories of owner, award-winning entrepreneur and film producer Hanan Kattan. It is a tribute to her Palestinian heritage and evenings spent in her ancestral home in Bethlehem with family and friends sharing food and bread from the Tabun oven. The restaurant re-creates the fond reminiscences of those treasured times.
On the evening I went to Tabun Kitchen the atmosphere was buzzing. A recent major refurbishment has resulted in fresh, contemporary décor and framed prints inspired by Palestinian embroidery. The changes mean that the restaurant can now seat up to 60 in the restaurant and 12 at the brand new bar.
We were soon settled in taking a look at the menu, there were mezze style starters, traditional plates, an intriguing section called Tabun Twists and a selection of dishes from the Tabun oven.
The mezze starters offered a range of dips and more substantial dishes like pan-fried chicken livers. My wife chose the mini mezze, a trio of dips and I had the spicy shrimp. The food was absolutely delicious, my wife’s dips included hummus, moutabal (smoked aubergine) and ful mudammas (fava beans). They had all been carefully spiced and came with hot flatbread which had come straight from the Tabun. My spicy shrimps were exceptional, they had been dressed with lemon, garlic and chilli and the meat was tender and flavourful.
Choosing our main courses had been difficult. Traditional plates like Fatet Jaj Chicken – shredded lemon chicken, rice, hummus sauce, chilli, toasted pine nuts and sautéed garlic and Lamb Makloubeh – slow-cooked lamb, thyme-grilled vegetables, rice and pine nuts were tempting. The Tabun Grill, a feast of marinated lamb fillet, spiced kofta, lamb chop, za’atar chicken and sujuk lamb sausage also looked attractive but our eventual choice was the Jerusalem burger for my wife and the lamb tahini kofta for myself.
The juicy and tender lamb burger was again well spiced and came in a sesame bun with pickles and a hot shat’ta sauce. It was served with a side of skinny fries seasoned with a pungent za’atar spice mix. This was a definite twist on a standard hamburger and chips.
My lamb tahini kofta was a Manaeesh, a Palestinian ‘pizza’. It was a bubbly, blistered flatbread covered in spicy minced lamb with pine nuts and chilli. The Manaeesh arrived in home-style fashion, piping hot from the Tabun oven.
There was a well focussed wine list offering cocktails which included ones with a Middle Eastern twist, spirits, beers sparkling, reds, whites and rosés. The reds were robust and would match the food well as would the aromatic whites Our companion for the evening was the Las Condes Sauvignon Blanc from Chile. This had good floral and citrus notes in the bouquet and offered fresh acidity on the palate which worked well with the spicy food, It left a crisp, dry finish.
Puddings were beyond us but there were some very interesting options on the menu including Knafeh – akkawi cheese, kataifi pastry and orange blossom syrup, and Muhulabieh – rose scented milk pudding, crushed pistachios, orange blossom honey.
If you want to finish the meal with a Middle Eastern flourish then you could have an Arabic coffee, fresh mint infusion or Tabun chai.
The standout of this meal was the clever way the food had been spiced, it enhanced the ingredients immensely and made for some unique taste experiences. If you are unsure about what to order then you can either ask the friendly service team or opt for the four course Jerusalem Taster Menu or if it’s earlier in the day, the set lunch.
77 Berwick Street, W1F 8TH
For reservations call 020 7324 7767