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Food review: Middle Eastern vegan pop-up What the Fattoush? at Kingsland Road’s Pamela bar

PUBLISHED: 14:02 01 October 2018 | UPDATED: 17:16 01 October 2018

Dips and flatbread from the What the Fattoush? menu. Picture: What the Fattoush?

Dips and flatbread from the What the Fattoush? menu. Picture: What the Fattoush?

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Middle-eastern vegan pop-up What the Fattoush? is at Kingsland Road’s Pamela bar until the new year.

Chefs Jessica Howe and Megan Maule. Picture: What the Fattoush?Chefs Jessica Howe and Megan Maule. Picture: What the Fattoush?

Known for its cocktails – whose ingredients include a jalapeno-infused vodka that tastes delightfully like an alcoholic salad dressing - Pamela is a favourite with vegans. It’s so far hosted animal-free menus inspired by Mexican and Chinese food and, like both of those, What the Fattoush? offers diners about a dozen hot and cold mezze plates. You’ll want four or five between two people - they aren’t huge but the flavours are rich and varied, and you should certainly leave space for dessert (on which more later).

There’s a serious side to proceedings – chefs Jessica Howe and Megan Maule learnt to cook Middle Eastern food at refugee camps across Europe and Palestine, and met at the Calais Jungle in 2016. Their business now hands 10 per cent of all its profits – a cut that has so far totalled thousands of pounds – to SkatePal, a charity building skate parks for young people in Palestine. In fact, they’re heading out this month to see what the money has done.

Of the recipes Jess and Megan brought back from their travels, my favourites are the batata harare – spicy sauteed cubes of potato not unlike patatas bravas – and the roast squash. The latter is a Middle Eastern take on something you might make with Christmas dinner, flecked with sage and variously crispy and smooth thanks to the almond seeds and tahini. The slow cooked aubergine and pepper is the heartiest thing on the menu, while fresher options include a slaw with tangy kohlrabi and lemon dressing – plus Levantine staples such as tabbouleh and falafel. Oddly, there is no actual fattoush on offer (maybe that’s the joke).

Roasted butternut squash with sage and almonds. Picture: What the Fattoush?Roasted butternut squash with sage and almonds. Picture: What the Fattoush?

I also recommend the four dips from the cold menu, which come with a hefty bonus glug of ethically sourced Palestinian olive oil, though don’t be shy about asking for extra bread as it’s all too good not to mop up. The fragrant, citrusy coriander paste is a particular treat.

Balah el sham, the only pudding option, is a plate of soft, fluffy fried dough sticks with a dark chocolate and orange dipping sauce. The sticks (churros) are so light they’re reminiscent of deep fried cheese, and have an unexpected floral overtone, which means they might not be for everyone – but from where I’m sitting they’re addictive and I demolish the plate with ease.

As if a delicious all-vegan menu weren’t enough, the bar atmosphere is charming, with music low enough for relaxed conversation, the drinks list is large and varied, and the staff are all really nice. If you’ve not been, it’s well worth a look.

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