North West London may be the traditional destination for Middle Eastern eats in our city, but last month saw the official opening in Stoke Newington of Tatreez, a Palestinian eatery serving Levantine and vegetarian food.
Candlelit and with an exposed brick interior and a selection of (mostly Lebanese) wines and beers, the cafe offers a menu that evidently has an experimental local crowd in mind.
It eschews well-known staples like hummus and falafel in favour of introducing diners to other less famous but equally tasty and authentic Levantine classics such as mana’eesh, a middle eastern style pizza baked in a large white stone oven with toppings such as vegetables with labneh (sour yogurt) and spinach, onion and lemon (mostly £5).
And no Palestinian restaurant worth its zataar would be complete without foul (fava beans and chickpeas mashed with garlic and lemon and fresh bread, priced £6.50).
The makdoos, a pickled aubergine dish, is delicate and delicious, and the food has a fresh and healthy taste.
Owner Hana Haj Ahmad says the dishes are made according to her mother’s recipes.
And Tatreez (meaning ‘embroidery’) also serves up culture.
Jonny Cox and Siemy Di play spiritual jazz (a mix of African rhythms, Indian rhythms and jazz harmonies) every Tuesday, while Seeds of Creation (a blend of traditional Berber music fused with Afro-blues, jazz and psychedelic sounds) play most Saturdays.
It also hosts regular gypsy nights.
The venue’s photographic celebration of pre-1948 Palestinian culture is worth a visit too, featuring portraits of Palestinians by “lady photographer” Karima Abboud. Otherwise, the fairtrade organic produce on sale is as political as it gets.
Most fun is the jalab, a date-syrup and rosewater drink with pine nuts.
There’s little to offer in terms of desserts, but with its floor to ceiling windows, fresh bread smells and simple, filling food, Tatreez makes a great spot for a leisurely weekend brunch.
188 Stoke Newington High Street, N16 7JD