The owner of Berber and Q, one of the most popular grill restaurants and shawarma bars in the central and east London, has announced that the group will open Carmel, a new, more grown-up all-day restaurant on Lonsdale Road in the residential Queen’s Park neighbourhood, in the west of the city, early this October.
Co-founder and chef Josh Katz who lives in the area told the Evening Standard that he’d always wanted to do an all-day restaurant, creating a place, which he says “can transform itself through the course of the day and into the night.” He added that he expected people “might think of this as a more grown-up version of what we’ve done to date.” The name, which Katz told the Standard is a nod to garden or vineyard, references growth and renewal after successive lockdowns and myriad challenges through the past 18 months.
In a statement released to media, Katz said: “My brother and I opened Berber & Q [in Haggerston] six years ago and Carmel maintains our core ethos of celebrating good company and eating great food cooked simply with real care and passion.
“The menu continues to take inspiration from the Levant and makes good use of the wood-fired oven, but we have some completely new creations, and some classic breakfast dishes on there too.”
After Berber & Q, together with his brother Paul and business partner Mattia Bianchi, Katz opened Shawarma Bar on Exmouth Market, a smaller, more informal bar and grill. Carmel will be touch more refined, Katz says, promising wine — much of it of a low-intervention bent — at its heart, “with a list of approximately sixty.”
As well as taking cues from North Africa and the wider Levant, Katz is promising a selection of flatbreads from a wood-fired oven, which will be central to the kitchen’s output. In the morning, Carmel will offer breakfasts such as a classic shakshuka with confit tomato, avocado, and tahini. Later in the day, guests can look forward to provenance-conscious dishes such as Tamworth pork chops from Swaledale, here served with confit garlic, preserved lemon, and borlotti beans; or slow-grilled chicken from Sutton Hoo with curry-pickled radicchio, and an apricot glaze. Vegetarian dishes will include the likes of sweet potato gnocchi with burnt aubergine, yoghurt and chilli butter; or grilled leeks with green chermoula, and saffron aioli.
Like Koya Ko and Scott’s which in this first week of August announced new sites on Broadway Market and in Richmond, respectively, Katz’s move to the residential west London neighbourhood of Queen’s Park is yet further evidence that more (but not all!) operators are looking outside the centre of the city for restaurant opportunities. Fewer office workers and tourists in town after numerous lockdowns have presented a number of difficulties for restaurateurs which rely on custom from those groups. While others have suggested that the obligation to stay local through the pandemic has meant more residents are eating within their communities more often.