A modern Israeli restaurant in the heart of London
From deep-fried Moroccan appetizers to warm Jerusalem bagels, The Barbary restaurant is lapping up the accolades.
Sometimes, the oddest combinations become the most sensible pairings. This appears to be the case for The Barbary, an eatery in London's bustling Covent Garden that's just been named the top restaurant in the city by Time Out Magazine.
With menu items ranging from classic and simple Jerusalem bagels to exotic and original octopus mashawsha – tentacles and all – there's a certain polarity to The Barbary's offerings that can be strange at first. But consider the fanfare it's getting after only a year in business. That's certainly no accident. Londoners are raving about the spot's impeccable tandoor-baked naan bread, an array of fragrant meats cooked in a clay oven, all capped off by a super-friendly staff and pleasantly quirky tunes playing from inconspicuous speakers ... this is clearly a bright, shining light amid London's fog.
The restaurant is owned by Israeli chefs Assaf Granit, Yossi Elad and Uri Navon. They're the same trio behind the acclaimed Machneyuda restaurant in Jerusalem and another London gem, The Palomar, which in 2015 was named best restaurant in the U.K. by both the British edition of GQ and Tatler magazine.
And to think, it all started with the Barbary Coast – the former name for the region that includes Morocco, Algeria, Libya and Tunisia. Once home to the Berber people, it's now known simply as North Africa.
And with that history comes some pretty distinctive and incredible cuisine. The Barbary evokes the region's rich past, embracing recipes passed down through generations, cooked using the purest, most flavorful techniques and served simply and elegantly to hungry guests.
"What they’ve done is taken the ancient recipes ... that have gone on to influence food in today’s Israeli kitchen, then reimagined them," Time Out wrote in its review. "The smoky room is stuffed full of music, laughter and people that are beautiful in the best way: inside and out."
For those of you clamoring for a taste of The Barbary's Jaffa-style cauliflower and deep-fried Moroccan cigars – not actual cigars, thank goodness – you might have to wait a spell. It's a small place, and it usually doesn't take reservations. Show up at off-peak times, leave the kids at home (it's mostly barstool seating and doesn't accommodate infants) and prepare to be dazzled.
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Related Topics: Chefs & Restaurants