They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but Pimlico’s newest mezze joint seems to be having a universal appeal - seriously, just check their tagged photos on Instagram. Walking into the lushly decorated Omar’s Place you’d be easily mistaken for thinking you’d stumbled upon the private bar of a Turkish prince. Art deco in design, but thoroughly modish in every way, the traditional vintage staples of velvet and marble seeming fresh and modern in the peach-toned dining room.
Far from being packed with people ‘gramming the restaurant’s oozy Egg Parcels, Omar’s is peopled primarily by girlfriends doing the mates-dates thing over creamy burrata and a few of the bar’s expertly made cocktails. My own friend-date kicks off with the Sand & Sage (£8), a mix of rum, lime juice and sage that is as sharp as it is refreshing, and as delicate as the canapés of red pepper paper and garlic mayo that arrive on an impressive stone pedestal. And it’s already apparent that there’s a lot to be impressed with here.
The Hummus (£7) is unlike anything you will have seen before, as tubes of pea and beetroot paper give way to a light and creamy hummus that needs no pitta or crudites to bring it to life. The Sardine (£8) too is an absolute marvel. Salty fish comes served with bitter salad, red pepper puree and something called a ‘smoked oil snow’ that looks and feels like crunchy sleet but tastes like the char on a well-barbecued steak. As for the hot mezze, the Parmoussaka (£7) is comfort food at its finest. This stout tower of aubergine, dripping with tomato sauce and melted mozzarella, is the only care package from home any Mediterranean ex-pat needs.
Mains, though small, are hearty, and easily amount to a full plate when ordered with a couple of sides. We opt for the Hake (£14) and the quail (£17) with a side of roasted cauliflower (£6) and rosemary potatoes (£4) - the latter of which more than deliver on the fragrance front. The quail comes stuffed with more delicious aubergine and boiled quail’s eggs; while some may find the idea of eating an animal stuffed with it’s own unborn offspring disturbing, I am so sold on this place that they could serve me up a live banana slug and I’d still turn to my friend, eyes rolling, and exclaim how that was the best mucus I’ve had in a while.
There’s some real flair and ingenuity in the dishes here - no doubt the effect of installing Michelin-starred-veteran Vincente Fortea in the kitchen. The Fake Profiteroles (£6) are, indeed, not profiteroles at all, but cherry meringues filled with a fresh and chunky almond cream and topped with tiny basil leaves that turn out to pack an immense amount of flavour.
The DesignMyNight Digest
Rather than taking the ‘all fur coat and no knickers’ approach, Omar’s Place understands the balance of both style and substance, and excels in all spheres. It’s easy on the eye, sure, but it will also give your tastebuds quite the runaround.
Omar's Place is open Tuesday to Saturday from 12pm - 11pm at 13 Cambridge Street, Pimlico, London SW1V 4PR.