Sarona restaurant

Clerkenwell

Sarona is that rarest of things: a Middle Eastern restaurant producing food as good as the finest kitchens in Jerusalem or Beirut. The menu, divided into ‘Fresh’, ‘Comforting’, ‘Fried’ and ‘Charred and Grilled’, is the brainchild of Israeli chef Aviv Lavi, almunus of Tel Aviv’s OCD restaurant. From the first bite of sautéed chicken liver with Jerusalem spice scooped up with fluffy pita bread, it’s clear he’s brought more than a little Tel Aviv magic with him. A fight almost breaks out over the last few spoons of a Levantine lamb stew, while a dish of smoky stuffed courgettes with raisins, dill and Lebanese yoghurt is so evocative of Bekaa Valley café stops of years gone by that we order another. Even staples like the humous and note-perfect tabbouleh, are worth writing home about. Our sweet tooth is satisfied by dessert: a light, luscious rice pudding and tahini ice cream with chewy caramel topping. Add a largely Israeli and Lebanese wine list and prices that offer great value for money (see the £5 lunch special) and we have in Sarona dining room as well rooted as an ancient Lebanese cedar.

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