Sumac Martinis and More at Ottolenghi’s New Spitalfield’s “Deli” in London

From left to right, clockwise: Crazy pink meringues in the deli section; Roasted cauliflower, hazelnut and pomegranate salad; my Sumac Martini; the restaurant’s vegetable display. Restaurant photos by Danielle Frum; salad photo by Jonathan Lovekin from the Ottolonghi cookbook, “Jerusalem.”

After a delightful tour of London’s historic Jewish East End, I walked over to the Old Spitalsfield Market — a completely renovated covered marketplace with clothing stalls, shops, restaurants and an exotic array of food trucks. I was not going to be tempted by them, though, because my stomach was headed in the direction of Yotam Ottolenghi’s new “Spitalfields Deli” restaurant a couple of blocks away. The “deli” aspect of it means customers can choose to dine in the chic, light-filled dining room — or choose from his signature, mouthwatering display of dishes to take away. I opted for a seat at the bar.
Spitalfield’s is the fifth restaurant by chef Ottolenghi to open in London, in this case launched last April. If you visit the city I urge you to book a meal at one of them. Lunch is just as good as dinner. Fans of his cookbooks will enjoy tasting his Middle-East influenced dishes made by the real deal. You’ll also enjoy washing them down with similarly exotically spiced cocktails: even though it was only 2 p.m. I couldn’t resist just tasting (I swear) a “Sumac” martini, made with pomegranate juice, lime, Falernum, and the restaurant’s house-made sumac-infused vodka. A delicious gulp of the shuk. I ordered from the lunch menu — which changes daily — turkey and zucchini koftas, accompanied by two salads: roasted eggplant with lemon yogurt, Harissa oil, flaked almonds and rose petals; and roasted cauliflower with green tahini and chili yogurt with spring onion and hazelnuts. The latter is a version of a recipe from his cookbook Jerusalem, written with his business partner Sami Tamimi (photographed above). The book version does not use yogurt, so if you keep Kosher, it can be served with meat — and because it should be kept at room temperature, is a perfect side dish that will sit happily on the counter for two days. It’s also a great way to turn the wintery cauliflower into something that will bring the taste of Jerusalem sunshine to your table.