Queen’s Park in North West London is fast becoming a foodie destination. On Lonsdale Road, Australian eatery Milk Beach has been a favourite among locals for years and now its neighbour Carmel is on its way to becoming a firm favourite too.
Carmel is a relaxed, all day dining restaurant with a menu inspired by food from the Eastern Mediterranean. It’s the third restaurant in the Berber & Q group and was opened in 2021. Part of what makes Carmel special is their focus on live-fire cooking and wood roasting.
The decor has got a bit of a Moroccan vibe with the terracotta, dusty pink coloured seating. I love the greenery with lots of hanging plants and plants in pot plants around the restaurant. The space is open plan with a large communal dining table taking centre stage and then more intimate banquette seating for couples.
There are two different counter seating options – at the bar or at the chef’s counter. When you make a booking you can choose counter seating, standard or outdoor. When we visited for lunch one Sunday, we sat at the chef’s counter so we could watch the cooking in action.
They also have a large outside terrace with heaters and blankets during the colder months. There are candle holders on each table, which in the evening creates a lovely ambience.
When we visited the music was fairly loud, creating a buzz. I didn’t mind it for lunch but I think I’d find it a bit too loud for dinner.
Menu highlights at Carmel
We ordered the Carmel mezze to share as a starter. The mezze consists of a variety of small dishes such as mixed olives and pickles, and dips such as hummus, Tahini and cucumber tzatziki to accompany their amazing Za’atar Flatbread – which was so delectable we ordered extra!
For our mains we shared two dishes – the Za’atar Chicken Schnitzel and the Lamb Kofteh Skewer, which should have come with pomegranate jam but they’d run out so we had apricot jam instead. I’m sure the pomegranate jam would have worked amazingly well with the lamb but the apricot jam was also delicious.
The Schnitzel was served with pickles and labneh, which is a strained yoghurt, and a wedge of lemon. It was a really big portion so great for sharing. It was also perfectly crispy on the outside and moist inside.
Whilst the Schnitzel was tasty, the Lamb Kofteh Skewer was our favourite. You could definitely taste that it had been cooked on fire and the green Tahini and apricot jam were perfect accompaniments. Absolutely delectable – I’d definitely order this again!
Carmel pays equal attention and care to meat and vegetables so if you’re vegetarian, there are plenty of options for you on the menu.
The wine list
The wine list focuses on ‘low-intervention’ wine producers from across Europe and is quite an extensive list. We were delighted to find a sparkling wine from my husband’s region of Emilia Romagna in Italy. We ordered the Ribelle Rosato 2020, made from the Barbera grape. It’s produced by winemaker Camillo Donati in a completely natural way. Priced at £53 a bottle, we thought it was fabulous and well worth the price.
I think it’s safe to say that when you can’t stop thinking about the food you had, and craving certain dishes (I’m looking at you, Za’atar Flatbread), you’ve had a good meal! The food is delicious, great selection of wine and fabulous service. What’s not to love?