338 Acton Mews, E8 4EA
020 7923 0829
berberandq.com / @berberandq
AKA: Mangal 2 meets Ottolenghi
The deal: To open up a Middle Eastern grill when you've got some of the best Turkish ocakbasi in London just a few hundred metres up the road - well, you've got to be confident. Thankfully ex-Ottolenghi chef Josh Katz is just the man to deliver his exotic twist on the old barbecue. The restaurant is housed under the railway arches in Haggerston (fast turning into the hottest spot for new restaurants to launch out East), but it's also the perfect match for the food. Smokey, dark and dotted with pretty Arabic-style lights, it's a great place to get intimate with some meat (and means people won't notice any errant smears of pomegranate molasses across your face, too ). It's a no reservations place, so get down early to bag a table. Then it's all about eating meat to the beat - it's got a banging soundtrack, too.
The food: Although you automatically think of meat when you think of a BBQ, the vegetables are well worth a visit alone. Choose your hunk of cauliflower (a quarter, half or whole - £4, £6.5 or £8) and wait for it to transformed into a thing of beauty. Grilled to the edge of bruleed, it's then doused in tahini, pomegranate seeds, pine nuts and a sharp but sweet dressing that will make you wish you'd ordered the whole bloody thing. Not that it matters - there's also a blackened aubergine (£5.5), bursting with a garlic yoghurt and tomato topping, with golden-yolked soft boiled eggs. The dips go far beyond any banal recipes - we're still obsessing about the creme fraiche, harissa oil and crushed plum tomato bowl of dreams and their hummus was extra luxurious with a drizzle of additional tahini, marinated chickpeas and pine nuts, all mopped up with their pillow-like pittas, which are all made on the premises. Next up it was the meat. Prices can get a little high on the meat side of the menu, but to be honest, with all the excellent side dishes, you'll not need that much. The smoked short-rib (£18) comes delivered old-school Americana styles on a tray with trimmings including grilled veggies, harissa sauce, side salad and a bed of pitta to mop up the sweet, sweet juices from the tasty and sticky cut. We couldn't actually find room for dessert, but a perky little cup of aromatic fresh mint tea should see you on your way.
The signature dish: Most people will probably say the short rib, but it's the harissa creme fraiche dip that will have us knocking their door down again.
The chef: Josh Katz
When to dine: Early evenings - to guarantee a table get down there at 6pm when they open. Closed on Mondays.
Damage to pocket: With a drink or two, it'll be around £40 a head for a full dinner (and you will leave very, very full).
File under: Mid-week munches, Great With Mates, Date Night, Weekenders