Having only just opened in September of this year, HAYA has already got itself a new head chef. Notting Hill’s latest neighbourhood restaurant still draws influences from Tel Aviv but this time Shiri Kraus (formerly Palomar and Barbary) is at the helm. We’re huge fans of both restaurants so were super excited to see how she puts her spin on the place.
It’s a beautiful space, situated on the gorgeous Kensington Park Road in between high-end clothes shops and just down the road from three Michelin-star Core by Clare Smyth. With pale pink Venetian plaster, exposed brickwork and gold-flecked art adorning the walls, candlelit flickered and the lights dimmed as the night went on.
In keeping with Shiri’s ethos, the à la carte menu is designed to be shared, with a focus on seasonal, fresh ingredients remaining at the heart of what they do. They recommend 3-4 dishes per person, so we tucked into marinated strips of yellow and red peppers atop soft goat’s cheese, chunks of beetroot alongside labneh (thick-strained yoghurt to the uninitiated) and baba-ganoush with chewy caramelised nuts alongside chunks of figs. Lightly charred slices of tahini bread (which naturally happens to be gluten-free) are essential for mopping it all up, although that also comes with its own za’atar spiked olive oil and whipped spicy feta.
Lamb cutlets finished with ras el hanout, tahini yoghurt and date honey came with a juicy ridge of thick fat which melts under the knife – this will appeal to some, not to others. To accompany that the ‘Jaffa Cauliflower’ is a medley of green romanesco and more traditional florets, with yet more tahini and splodges of gremolata here and there. The smoked aubergine was divine – cooked until impossibly soft, with a tahini crust and flaked with almonds.
Desserts are recited to you by the waitress for now, with us trying what they described as an earl grey biscuit topped with foam and cocao nibs which came out looking and tasting like a decadent dessert cocktail with layers of thick chocolate mousse. Tahini even makes an appearance here, as part of a brioche paired with delicate rose water ice-cream.
As a mother herself and having grown up in Tel Aviv, Shiri also felt it important to launch a weekend brunch menu, focusing on homemade family feasting plates. Available from 10am – 3.30pm; dishes included the likes of date granola served with labneh, date honey and pomegranate seeds or freshly baked banana bread with coffee crumble. Home-made pancakes are accompanied with a choice of sweet and savoury options including blueberries and maple syrup, spiced caramelized apples or goats cheese and thyme, finished with smoked salmon. Shakshuka is served with tahini, homemade bread for dipping, tomato salsa and yoghurt with toppings including goats cheese and herbs and spicy merguez sausage.
Shiri Kraus comments; “Joining the HAYA family was a natural step in my career and I look forward to co-creating the newest Israeli culinary gem in London; having grown up on my grandparent’s farm and observing and assisting my grandmother cook bountiful meals using the freshest ingredients, I have been heavily inspired by the notion of food as a way to relax and socialise. I am proud to be the woman leading a fantastic team to create something truly amazing and am excited about working with Victoria to create our dream. I believe that combining work and family life, whilst chasing your dreams is absolutely achievable, creating a life built on passion and purpose.”