LDNReview

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Carmel review image
7.8

Carmel

££££

23-25 Lonsdale Road, London
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Lonsdale Road in Queen’s Park feels like it should be cobbled. It’s one of those little thoroughfare roads, with charming converted warehouses, microbreweries, artisanal garlic salespeople, and the like. It’s got the air of a Richard Curtis set—quaint and wholesome with a lot of Emma Thompson lookalikes—and in Carmel, it has an all-day restaurant that mirrors this warm charm. Mediterranean-inspired but—with its rust-chic tones, hanging foliage, and three varieties of negroni—completely at home in north west London.

All-day restaurants, like Curtis films, tend to require a kind of consistent and inoffensive loveliness, and Carmel has got this down to a tee. It’s open early in the morning on weekends, when organised families and friends make themselves comfortable in the pastel banquettes and get acquainted with rose raspberry syrup, coconut, and peanut-topped French toast. During lunch it feels similarly laid-back: new parents at the counter watching their turmeric-roasted cauliflower do its thing over open flames, old parents sitting at the central shared table discussing whether heritage beets refers to the food or the soundtrack.

Aleksandra Boruch

Carmel review image

The flare of Carmel’s food, whether you’re sharing small or big plates, is in the bits and bobs. The oozing confit garlic, the bubbles of char on their peerless flatbreads, the caramelised lime sitting beside the familiar joy of a sumptuous grilled chicken. There are multi-coloured beetroots with whipped feta and pistachio dukkah, turmeric-roasted cauliflower with tahini and nuts, a tender lamb shank shawarma with zhug and pickles. These aren’t new combinations—they’re reliable—and that’s why everything here is exceedingly pleasant, even if there is a noticeable lack of va-va-voom.

Not every restaurant has to make an enormous statement, and there’s something comfortable and comforting about Carmel. If we were an NW6 local, we could imagine popping by mid-afternoon for a flatbread and a glass of something on the reg, alone or otherwise. But even if you’re not, it's very easy to imagine whiling away a morning or evening here. Pop down to Portobello Road, cosplay a rom-com, then wander up here for a mushroom and cheese-laden flatbread. It’s tried and tested enjoyment, with no need for Hugh Grant.


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Food Rundown

Aleksandra Boruch

Carmel review image

Flatbreads

The star of Carmel’s kitchen is undoubtedly their eight-inch sourdough flatbreads. They range from a za’atar-rubbed number served with a tahini dip and fermented chilli on the side, to a chanterelle mushroom and cheese creation. Our favourite of the lot is one of the simplest though: sweet cherry tomatoes and luscious confit garlic. These are better than what comes out of most pizza ovens across London.

Aleksandra Boruch

Carmel review image

Heritage Beets

This is one of those kaleidoscopic plates that you can’t say no to. Chunks of pink beetroot, swirls of yellow, wedges of purple—all sweet and earthy. The combination of beetroot, whipped feta, and dukkah is a classic for a reason.

Aleksandra Boruch

Carmel review image

Charred Hispi Cabbage

RIP the portobello mushroom. These days the cabbage and the cauliflower rule the vegetarian roost. This charred wedge of hispi cabbage is nice enough. It’s blackened and caramelised on the outside, and the labneh pool and the dukkah is another nice soft, cooling, and crunchy combination. It could do with a more generous seasoning of ras el hanout, though.

Jake Missing

Carmel review image

Slow-Grilled Saffron Chicken

As far as plates of grilled half chicken on yoghurt goes, this is maybe the prettiest. Rose petals, eh? The meat is super juicy and you’ll want to rub that caramelised lime all over it. That said, the flavours are all lacking a little oomph. It’s perfectly nice.

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