karma-chameleon:-london’s-new-tel-avivian-restaurant-ticks-all-the-boxes

Karma Chameleon: London’s new Tel Avivian restaurant ticks all the boxes

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Chameleon at One Marylebone, a church designed by Sir John Soane

Instagram: @chameleonlondon

The time is right for Chameleon, the multi-experiential space set around Grade I listed One Marylebone, the spectacular Neo Classical church designed by Sir John Soane (the mastermind behind plenty of London’s architectural jewels, Pitzhanger Manor, the Bank of England et al). It’s set away on an ‘island’ between Great Portland Street station and Regent’s Park – and it’s a one-stop shop for fun.

Dining at Chameleon

Mike Portlock

Chameleon exists in the paved stone courtyard around the church – but do ask for a peek at the theatrical chandeliers, stained glass windows and golden mosaics inside at the altar. On arrival you will be ushered in a specific direction should your reservation be for the more intimate, wisteria-clad greenhouses or via a courtyard flower market (take home a pot of lavender! A hydrangea! A dalia!) to God’s Garden. At the latter, the church exterior is transformed into a Rome-like piazza. Brilliantly pretty – and waterproof – teepees are built across the space, but through gaps you can make out the outline of the church that gives the place a gloriously transportive Italy-like feel where modern life exists between centuries-old churches. Warm bulbs cast an atmospheric light between verdant, ivy-strewn trees and, best of all, at the front is a small stage where a woman dances flamenco to the sound of the sitar.

Wisteria hangs above tables in the Greenhouse

Mike Portlock

The night I visited, it was hot hot hot – and the mood was Seville (thanks to the flamenco). And, yet, the food is Tel Avivian, with a menu formulated by Israeli chef du jour Elior Balbul, who has flown over from TA to head up the kitchen. The Rimon is the signature Chameleon cocktail, a freshly squeezed pomegranate margarita ‘with a twist’ but my partner and I opted for an aptly-named ‘Chameleonada’ – a piña colada – and a Hibiscus Royale in an elegant, sugar-dusted flute. Sharing plates is the order of the day – the plumpest, softest, most perfectly-risen Kubanna brioche dipped into sweet harissa with za’atar algonside coal roasted aubergine and small plates of yellowtail sashimi and beetroot cured salmon.

Surveying the small plates at Chameleon starring the Kubanna brioche

The place was buzzing – glamorous, long-locked down customers filled the courtyard eager to hit the town once more. Between live music a sun-kissed DJ set the mood – taking us from London to Ibiza in an elegant drop. For larger plates – the main course equivalent – we shared meaty Spanish octopus with black humus alongside charred poussin skewers with aubergine yoghurt. Alas, we were too full to sample the salted labneh cheesecake or finish the evening with a Pear Sidecar with activated charcoal, as we would have liked.

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This year, international travel may be off the cards – but, thankfully, Londoners have Chameleon which is all of Israel, Seville and Ibiza combined. Go on holiday for an evening via a visit.

1 Marylebone Road, London, NW1 4AQ; chameleon.london

Inside One Marylebone

Mike Portlock

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