Tabun Kitchen 3.5/5
VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5
VENUE & ATMOSPHERE: 4.5/5
NOTE: ALL MEAT IS HALAL. ALCOHOL IS SERVED ON THE PREMISES.
The hardest part of being married is moving away from home. I can’t say that me and my mum were crazy close before I got married, but that certainly changed after, and I appreciated her a whole lot more after marriage. Anyway, reflective sob story over. When my ma asked me and ShakerFries to dinner one Friday night, I couldn’t say no. It also came with the added bonus that I could choose where to eat. Enter Tabun Kitchen. Tabun Kitchen brings fresh, healthy Palestinian-inspired food to a premium mass market open to exploring Jerusalem street food with a ‘twist.’
Tabun kitchen is just a short walk away from Oxford Circus tube station. The first thing that struck me when walking in was the futuristic-modern decor, which was still cosy and intimate. In fact, it was almost a bit too cosy. After three of us being shown to a table for two, I requested a larger table. The kind staff immediately moved us. I was happy, as now I could order to my heart’s content. After being showered in motherly hugs and kisses, I was ready to get my head stuck into the menu.
With mummy being vegetarian, I had the perfect opportunity to indulge in both the veggie and non-veggie options. We decided to be extremely non-British, and ordered a variety of dishes to share. Starters included hummus and the falafel mezze salad (falafel, hummus, moutabul, tabbouleh and Jerusalem falafel). I kind of wish I had ordered the much talked about Jerusalem udssieh (hummus, fava beans, chilli and garlic and lemon dressing) in hindsight, but I think in my hungry state I managed to overlook this signature dish… Boo to me. For drinks, mummy and I ordered the virgin mojitos.
The starters and drinks arrived mucho rapido. On first glance, the portion sizes weren’t as generous as I would have liked. that being said, I couldn’t fault the taste of the food. The moutabal smoked aubergine with grilled chilli and lemon courgettes was a highlight for me, and the Jerusalem Falafel is a must. I would even go as far to say that it will impress even the most ardent of falafel fans, with it’s crispy, sesame coated exterior and its spiced, sumac onion centre.
For mains we opted ordered the Tabun Grill for a meaty treat, the za’atar fries. and the Spinach Manaeesh, which is a freshly baked palestinan pizza topped with sumac, pine nuts, spinach and pomegranate.
I enjoyed the meaty selection in the Tabun Grill, which consisted of Marinated lamb fillet, spiced kofta, lamb chop, za’atar chicken & sujuk lamb sausage. Although the meat within the platter initially seemed sparse for £18 worth of meat, ShakerFries and I still struggled to finish it! I have to say, I was especially impressed with the seasoning and tenderness of the lamb fillet. The juciness of the chicken made the za’atar chicken a close second for me, although ShakerFries disagreed, and stated that the smokiness of the lamb chop won him over in terms of his second choice. The rest of the platter was good, but I wasn’t blown away, and although I don’t deny that the meat quality was excellent, I would have loved to see more value for money in terms of quantity. The Palestinian Pizza with the sumac, spinach and pomegranate toppings intrigued me. However, mummy and I were a little disappointed as it seemed to be drenched in lemon juice, causing us to both screw our faces in reaction to the sour palette invasion. Consequently, we left half the pizza. It’s a shame because it really was a novel concept, and all the pizzas were baked fresh, in-house. The za’atar fries tasted like rosemary fries to me. No further comment.
Surprisingly, we still had room for dessert. This is usually a rare occurrence when we go out for dinner, so we were umm-ing and ahhh-ing over the menu for quite some time. We wanted the Brownies with tahini ice cream but they were sold out, so we settled for my favourite dessert….knafeh with 2 scoops of tahini ice cream and a pot of Tabun Tea (which, it turns out, is just normal English tea). The knafeh arrived in a small sizzling platter. It was mind-blowingly good, with it’s sweet mozzarella interior, and hot crisp exterior. It was the first time mummy had tried knafeh and she was a happy bunny. The concept of tahini ice cream may have been strange initially, but my scepticism was quickly wiped out as in fact the flavour was amazing, subtle, and ‘just worked’.
The bill came to £86 for the three of us (ouch!). Not what we had planned spending for a simple catch up meal. Part of me felt like we had paid too much for what we received. I had enjoyed my meal and the service was top notch, yet the total bill still seemed a bit OTT. Then again, we were in the heart of London, eating Middle Eastern Cuisine, which is always a bit on the pricey side. Overall I was happy with my experience at Tabun Kitchen, and would recommend visiting when (and if) you have a bit of cash to spare!