What: Mediterranean restaurant Omar’s Place opened in Pimlico late last month, serving contemporary, Mediterranean-inspired tapas. Following an extensive refurbishment of the site, previously a disused pub, it now comprises a restaurant and a cocktail bar, with more developments in the pipeline.
Who: Cairo-born owner Omar Shabaan comes from a family of experienced restaurateurs and hoteliers. Their hospitality brand, Andrea Mariouteya, has been in the family for over 60 years, and to date Shabaan oversees a number of restaurants and hotels around Egypt. The opening of Omar’s Place marks a UK debut for the restaurateur, and heading up the kitchen is Mallorcan-born executive chef Vicente Fortea, who takes his experience from high-profile kitchens including three-starred Arzak in San Sebastian and one Michelin-starred Plat D’Or in Mallorca.
The vibe: Due to the building’s status as a Grade-II listed property, interior design company Sella Concept had to hold off on refurbishments for the best part of a year while planning permission issues were settled. Previously a disused Victorian pub on a quiet corner, the extensive revamp has seen walls removed, and timber slats added on the ground and basement levels. The colour scheme is inspired by the terracotta colour of Mediterranean earth, and walls are curved and contoured, giving the 40-cover ground level room a warm, inviting feel. Rust-coloured banquettes contrast with a curved, blue bar, creating a separation between restaurant and drinking area.
The food: The menu comprises a selection of hot and cold tapas dishes; larger grilled meat and seafood dishes to share; several sides; and desserts. Despite reading rather like a traditional tapas menu, each dish has a contemporary twist. Squid tartare arrives on a slice of lemon, hidden under a cloud of seawater foam; ‘duet of hummus’ comprises a purple cigar made from a beetroot cracker, piped with beetroot hummus and topped with the dehydrated root vegetable; sobrasada with crispy carasau bread is presented as a bar of gold, filled with warm Mallorcan sausage and a pile of smoky powder to mix in. Larger plates include a smokey octopus tentacle; fried turbot pieces ‘Andalusian style’ served on the fish’s skeleton with a dip; Caribinero prawn served on a pancake of black, crispy rice; and a 45-day aged Galician beef steak. Desserts include ‘fake profiteroles’; chocolate fondant; and caramelised bread and butter pudding.
The drinks: Shabaar, who is a seasoned bar manager, has sourced a selection of fine wines for the restaurant, which can be ordered by the glass or the bottle. His real passion lies in whiskies, a selection of which are available alongside a cocktail list including ‘Omar’s Bellini’, made with pomegranate juice, limoncello, grenadine and prosecco).
And another thing: Although the restaurant currently only has 40 covers, Shabaar will be renovating the wine cellar in the basement, creating a 30-cover stylish, underground bar. Outdoor seating will be added in the warmer months.