Sarona, a German Templar colony in Ottoman Palestine, and now a neighbourhood of Tel Aviv, Israel, is the apt name of a food-focused restaurant and bar which provides a taste of the Middle East in East London. The biggest problem you’ll encounter on visiting is probably deciding what to order.
The menu is split into; Raw, Fried, Charred & Grilled and Comforting. With no distinct definitions between starters and mains, you’ll have to let go of any preconceptions and order a combination of dishes that will suit you best.
A personal favourite of mine from the Raw menu was the beetroot, orange and feta mint salad (£8) – a delicate flavour sensation that won’t fill you up but will definitely warm up your taste buds and prepare you for an adventurous meal.
Moving onto Charred & Grilled, the star of the show was the burnt aubergines, tahini & dates syrup (£8). In many ways a twist on Baba Ganoush or Palestinian Mutabal. This dish harnesses the smoky smoothness of a fully charred aubergine, and balances it with the delicious sweetness of dates – so prevalent in the Middle East. Good enough to mop up by itself, but probably more sophisticated to pair this with some pitta bread, and maybe even the cauliflower with tahini and sumac (£8) from the Fried menu.
One of the great things about Sarona is how much the restaurant embraces its roots to produce a rich vegetarian offering, but they’ve added a diverse selection of meat and fish dishes too.
Consider trying the prawn kebab (£14), these are so perfectly succulent, yet crispy and resemble a dish I had on the side of the road in Oman once. Their pairing with lettuce and harissa mayo definitely embraces some Western influences though. Another winner is the lamb arayes (£8); arayes are meat stuffed pittas, often fairly flat. These ones are so packed that they almost resemble a pie; obviously with delicious crunchy pitta instead of stodgy pastry – but the pie analogy will help prepare you for the rich and filling nature of this dish.
You’d be crazy not to order a serving of their Hummus masabacha from the Comforting menu – so much richer, creamier and tahini-licious than the Western equivalents we often try. Don’t be confused by the name – Hummus Masabacha is a variant that contains plenty of whole chickpeas as well as some puréed ones.
Just a note, that the dishes I’ve name-dropped are more than enough to completely stuff two diners – so you might have to pick wisely, or have the dishes in stages throughout your meal to prevent a mass overload at the beginning…
Address: Sarona, 27 Clerkenwell Road, Clerkenwell, London, EC1M 5RN
Written by Sophie Perry