Restaurant of the Week: Penelope’s

By Martha Davies

9 months ago

Israeli cuisine meets Spanish flavours at Hotel AMANO’s signature restaurant

What do you get when you combine traditional Spanish recipes with Israeli fare? Penelope’s will enlighten you, says Martha Davies. Introducing our new Restaurant of the Week.

Restaurant of the Week: Penelope’s

With its plush amber-coloured seating and dark wooden finishes, Penelope’s is as polished as it gets – but that doesn’t mean the restaurant isn’t inviting. We arrive on an unassuming Thursday night and are ushered to a corner table, where we enjoy a view of both the bustling chefs behind the counter and the glossy DJ booth, which will be full of life by the time evening settles in. It’s undeniable: beneath its slick, sophisticated exterior, Penelope’s is full of warmth and exuberance, starting with its Israeli-Spanish menu. 

The blend of flavours on offer here might seem particularly unique (even by the dizzying standards of contemporary fusion cooking), but these are dishes you don’t have to question – unless, of course, you’re asking for more. We begin with the Israeli mezze, plunging pillowy taboon bread into bowls of spicy yoghurt, fresh tomato salsa and green harissa with a hint of cod roe. The tuna ceviche is a seafood-lover’s dream, served with jewels of mango and hints of seaweed, while the ox cheek is velvety and rich, dusted with a traditional blend of herbs, nuts and spices. 

Image: Haydon Perrior

Between indulgent bites we contemplate the cocktails, having settled on two classic AMANO offerings – one with a Bacardi coconut base and the other boasting Amazzoni gin, but both blended with fresh raspberries to create sweet, sharp and instantly moreish tipples. You’ll want to chase the waiter for another long before you’ve drained the dregs of the first.

The main course begins with a surprising showstopper: the Israeli tomato salad. This was a recommendation from our waiter, and it’s a true hidden gem on the menu. Expect tomatoes so fresh that they banish the gathering dusk and the grey clouds preceding it; tossed with mint and drenched in citrus, this is far more than a humble salad, and it will leave you wanting more from the very first bite. It also pairs brilliantly with the lamb rump as well as the Israeli-style paella, which is crowned with buttery octopus and murky pools of ink – a rich, sticky and fragrant dish that is at once hearty and refined.

Image: Haydon Perrior

By the time our plates are cleared, dusk has indeed gathered, but the atmosphere is far from dim: tables are crowded, the chefs are hard at work and the DJ booth is now occupied. We top off our evening with two gorgeous desserts. The first is a decadent chocolate tart served with candied popcorn and miso caramel ice cream, perfectly balancing the richness of the pastry with a salty kick. The second is a magnificent baklava cheesecake, which is drizzled with honey syrup and sprinkled with pistachios. For a final treat, we head up to the AMANO rooftop bar, which boasts glorious city views and some predictably delicious drinks. There’s so much on offer here that it might make your head spin – but rest assured you can always come back for more. 

Image: John Athimaritis

FINAL WORD: From Israeli paella to some sensational salads, Penelope’s is full of surprises. It’s fusion food you didn’t know you needed.

BOOK IT: Drury House, 34-43 Russell Street, London, WC2B 5HA.