What: A bijou restaurant in London’s Neal’s Yard that takes inspiration from Moroccan courtyards and backstreet Andalusian bars. As the name suggests, the new venue is a neighbour and little sister of The Barbary restaurant, that serves dishes inspired by the Barbary Coast.
Who: Nightclub-owners-turned-restaurateur siblings Layo and Zoe Paskin are behind the new venue having transformed their coffee shop Jacob The Angel into The Barbary Next Door. Heading up the food offer is The Barbary head chef Daniel Alt.
The food: The menu takes its cues from the fragrant spices and smoky flavours of Moorish Spain and North African cooking and is a tight selection of small dishes that means that two people can try much of the menu between them. Dishes come thick and fast and include soft quails eggs dotted with cumin salt; Afghan khobz bread; seabream crudo with carrot, orange, and coriander oil; and an Essaouiran tomato salad. Hot dishes include and sweet/savoury chicken pastilla dusted with icing sugar and served with chili cherry jam; grilled merguez sausage; and the standout grilled chicken thigh topped with ras el hanout. There are only two desserts - sfenj Morroca doughnuts and hashpot, a diplomat cream with pistachios.
The drink: As with the food menu, the wine list has been kept brief. All are organic or bio dynamic with two roses and two orange wines on the menu alongside six each of white and red – all of which are available by the glass. The list is very approachable with no bottle topping the £60 mark and wines starting at £5.50 a glass.
The vibe: Small is very much beautiful here with diners having ring side seats to watch the cooking and bar action as it unfolds. The restaurant has space for just 10 diners who sit around a zinc counter with the room’s distressed antique mirror and lime washed walls helping create a very informal and buzzy dining room. So small is the space, in fact, that diners are obliged to use the restrooms of its bigger neighbour The Barbary. In warmer months the restaurant’s large windows at the front pull open and there will be seating on its outside terrace.
And another thing: Jacob The Angel might have stood aside for The Barbary Next Door but the Paskin’s coffee shop hasn’t been abandoned. Plans are under way to open it in a new location next year.
16a Neal's Yard, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9DP