T&C tests: Carousel London
Imagine a restaurant that you can return to time and again, knowing that every visit will offer you a different gastronomic experience – not just because the menu changes frequently, but because the chefs do too. That’s the concept behind Carousel, the Marylebone restaurant that hosts rotating residencies for leading British and international chefs, giving diners the opportunity to sample a range of cuisines without travelling far from home.
I visited Carousel earlier this week to try a tasting menu by the current chef-in-residence Shuli Wimer, who has spent five years honing her craft under Ruth Rogers at the River Cafe and is now looking to open her own London restaurant, where she plans to serve her signature Israeli-inspired cuisine, influenced by her experience of living and working in Tel Aviv. Carousel’s convivial atmosphere, with its long communal tables and intimate bar, suits Wimer’s informal style of cooking, where the emphasis is on the shared enjoyment of delicious, unpretentious food.
Her menu fully delivered on that promise: suitably relaxed after an aperitif (I opted for the gin and violet liqueur-based Aviation cocktail), we started with a light salad of raw mackerel, feta and celery, lifted by the citrussy addition of pomelo, before warming up with a rich vegetarian soup made from freekeh and winter greens. Next came the warm borlotti bean and tahini masabaha dip (a variation on hummus that means I will never again settle for the Sainsbury’s version) with a freshly baked flatbread that tasted like something between a pitta and a chapati. There was an optional course of Jewish gnocchi, made with artichoke, bread and bone marrow, and then everyone tucked into a dish of seared cabbage leaves stuffed with beef, lamb, potato and spices – the ultimate comfort food, whose hearty flavours were offset by a garnish of preserved lemon yoghurt and spicy zhug. A baklava-like finale of filo pastry encasing finely chopped pistachios was, quite accurately, described on the menu as a “warm, nutty, crispy delight”.
If you’re not lucky enough to catch Wimer in residence, there are plenty more top guest chefs joining the line-up in the coming months, starting with Scotland’s Rosie Healey (6 to 10 February), whose Glasgow-based restaurant Alchemilla specialises in Mediterranean-style cooking, and Santiago Lastra Rodriguez (13 to 24 February), a Noma alumnus whose cuisine is influenced by his Mexican heritage. There’s also an array of fun, hands-on experiences to try at the restaurant, from wine tasting and dumpling making to terrarium workshops – truly, something for everyone.
Shuli Wimer is at Carousel until 3 February. See the full list of guest chefs here and experiences here.
MORE FOOD & DRINK
Regional Sunday lunches at Londrino
How to eat healthily this January
The ultimate Valentine's escapes