Berber & Q opened just around the corner from home a few weeks ago. We paid a visit with maman and papa, but I forgot my camera, so no blogpost followed. By the time we had planned a return visit, everyone in the whole food world had written about it, with Jay Rayner saying 'The lesson here is that it is be possible to be both cool and good at the same time.' So that explains the queue snaking round the Haggerston Arches.
We nabbed a table in the corner, and settled in to a cocktail with the beating music battering away the working day blues with admirable ease.
This menu is one where deciding is difficult because we're struggling not to order everything. A cocktail and a plate of the creamiest, most-tahini packed hummus with a pillowy pitta later, and decisions are made.
Beef short rib and chicken wings hot from the grill served simply on a metal tray, are satisfyingly charcoal-y. When sprinkled with the addictive cumin salt and garlic sauce (which is oh so unbelievably garlic-y. Do not eat if you are on a first date.), you'll be fighting over every last scrap you've ordered. And make sure you share the pitta hidden underneath the meat. It's the golden ticket hidden at the bottom of that pile of meat.
Cauliflower shwarma transforms my thoughts on cauliflower. Served piled high with herbs, tahini and pomegranate seeds, it's clearly a winner as soon as it lands at your table. If you've been forever put off cauliflower by the limp, greying florets served in school canteens, this blackened head of the wonderfully white vegetable, drowned in a tahini sauce will ensure that you overcome your cauliflower-fear.
Beets, whipped feta and saffron candied orange doesn't sound like something my tastebuds will enjoy, but the candied orange on the beets works so well that even Papa, an ardent orange-hater (even more so when it is candied), sticks his fork back in for another mouthful.
Blackened aubergine with soft-boiled egg and pomegranate is smoky and another winning dish for the mighty aubergine. I love you Mr Aubergine.
And last but not least, Moroccan carrot salad was sweet and creamy, with just the right amount of crunch. If only every carrot salad was packed full of this many flavours.
We passed on pudding this time. On our first visit we gobbled them down, but they were not worth sacrificing the space in my tummy which could instead be filled with cauliflower and other tahini drenched vegetables.
Get yourself down to this super-hip railway arch for the most brilliantly cooked vegetables, lovingly grilled meats, and music that's loud, but not too loud. Everything about Berber & Q is just right.
Highlight: Cauliflower shwarma.
Lowlight: Get there early. I hate queues.
Berber & Q, Arch 338, Acton Mews, London, E8 4EA