Josh Katz and Mattia Bianchi, the team behind Berber & Q Grill House in London are to open a new venue in Exmouth Market in June.
The 40-cover Berber & Q Shawarma Bar at 46 Exmouth Market will specialise in shawarma (slow-cooked meat on a rotating spit over hot coals), alongside Middle Eastern cocktails, wine and beer.
The menu will be centred around lamb shawarma and Middle Eastern style rotisserie chicken. Both dishes will be served as plates from £13 and will be served with herb salad, gem leaves, green chilli, grated tomato, tahini and sumac onions.
Guests will be encouraged to make wraps with the meat and condiments, or eat as they please. Optional extras include fresh grilled pita, confit potatoes or individual pickle jars (from £1). Shawarma Bar will also offer sides such as blackened aubergine (£5.50), Mesabaha (£5) or coal-baked sweet potato (£4.50).
Katz, who has previously worked at Ottolenghi, Galvin Bistrot Deluxe and Zest, will take influence for the new venue from a variety of countries including Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel, as well as from the shawarma houses of Golders Green that he visited while growing up in the area.
"We started experimenting with shawarma at the Grill House. It's a dish that has huge nostalgic value for me, and if done properly deserves its own platform to shine, I've eaten shawarma all over the world; from Tel Aviv where it's served in pita, to discovering its roots in Jordan and versions in Istanbul.
"Back in the UK shawarma can get a bad rap - the ‘elephant leg' of grey meat, limp lettuce and cloying chilli sauce. I hope Shawarma Bar will bring this wonderful, and eclectic dish to a new level with fresh, high quality ingredients."
Other creations on the menu will include mejaderah, a Middle Eastern rice and lentils dish which will benefit from the juices of the spit, and form the basis of Shawarma Bar's ‘bowls', topped with lamb shawarma, harissa and anchovy (£13) or, cauliflower shawarma with golden sultana, rose and pine nuts (£10).
For dessert, there will be ice cream pita sandwiches, with tahini soft-serve and caramelised banana (£6).
Katz has also created a selection of pitas, inspired by the market places of Tel Aviv, stuffed with chicken, lamb, slow-braised beef short rib shpondra or a Jerusalem grill (from £7) along with a choice of house-made sauces; Yemenite Dynamite, Tahina, and Toum. A take-away hatch serving Shawarma Bar's pitas to Exmouth Market will open from 11am daily.
Co-founder, Mattia Bianchi will oversee the front of house and drinks offering, to include Middle Eastern frozen slush cocktails and Berber & Q's Golden on draught, made with thyme, za'atar, sumac and orange zest, served in growlers. "Shawarma Bar will continue Berber & Q's relaxed and informal vibe, a place to celebrate good company and down-to-earth eating and drinking. Exmouth Market seemed a fitting location for our second restaurant too, we're lucky to be in the company of many of great restaurants and chefs," said Mattia.
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