Arabic food isn’t hard to come by with so many restaurants across London offering a taste of the Middle East. However, good traditional Arabic food is. Having not had my monthly Middle Eastern feast in the past three months, when I had the chance to visit Maison Du Mezze, I couldn’t wait. Maison Du Mezze serves authentic Lebanese food whether you come for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Maison Du Mezze is located in the heart of London and right in the buzzing centre of it all – Leicester Square. With street performers beatboxing, rapping or juggling dangerous objects and red carpets rolled out for celebrities during film premieres, it is hard not to feel the buzz. Maison De Mezze stands out from the other restaurants with its light blue exterior and grand entrance. Free canapes were handed to people walking past, from hot grilled halloumi pieces straight from the kitchen to vol-au-vents stuffed with freshly made hummous and pine-nuts – no one could resist.
The al fresco dining area allows you to enjoy the food whilst watching the street performers for a more casual dining experience. Whilst this did look tempting, we decided to head inside for more of an Arabic atmosphere and for the air-con (which was very much needed) and we were glad we did!
Walking inside, we were mesmerised by the beautiful authentic Lebanese decor displayed all across the restaurant. Set over 2 floors, artifacts from all over Lebanon were beautifully presented – including prayer mats, Islamic plates, Arabic carpets, plants, lanterns and vases. There was a mixture of booths and banquette seating areas which gave it a nice cosy feel as well as portraying the Lebanese history.
The menu was carefully selected to showcase the true Lebanese feast. All dishes are freshly prepared daily using the finest seasonal produce and herbs and spices directly from the Middle East. We couldn’t wait to tuck in!
For my drink, I opted for Bora Bora which was the house favourite. This mocktail consisted of passion fruit mixed with with fresh pineapple juice and finished off with lemon and grenadine. It was utterly delicious and refreshing – sweet yet tangy from the lemon and pineapple juice.
My husband opted for the traditional mint lemon juice which was extremely fresh and minty – just like a mojito. It was topped with fresh mint leaves and crushed mint leaves. It was surprisingly sweet and not tangy as we thought it would be. Perfect for the meals ahead.
For our starters, the restaurant manager recommended we try out a mixed cold mezze platter as well as a hot mezze platter to get a taste of all the different mezzes available – which we did not say no to! The cold mezze consisted of all my favourites! There was the traditional chickpea hummous which was smooth and velvety, moutabal (also known as baba ganoush) which contained chargrilled aubergine blended with tahini and lemon juice topped with fresh pomegrante seeds, Al Rahib – another aubergine dish, this time containing chunky smoked aubergine, tomato, green peppers, spring onions, parsley, garlic and lemon juice and finally the traditional Labneh – a thick creamy strained yoghurt blended with fresh mint and drizzled with olive oil. All of these were accompanied by a beautiful basket of delicious homemade pitta bread to dip and soak in all the flavours. I was in mezze heaven.
On top of all the delicious creamy cold mezzes sat some Warak Inab (stuffed vine leaves) which were delicious. The vine leaves were packed full of flavoured rice, carrots, and lentils and wrapped tightly in leaves.
With the first starter polished off with no crumb in sight, we tucked into our second starter platter – the mixed hot mezze platter. This contained all the delicious meats and cheese everyone would be hopeful for. The platter contained my absolute favourite – fried Kibeh Maklieh, which was lamb with a cracked wheat shell filled with marinated minced lamb, onions and pine nuts – a staple at any Arabic dinner table! Next up was Sambousek Lahmeh, which was similar to a Cornish pasty. We had a variety of Sambousek Lahmeh – one had beautifully seasoned minced lamb, one had tenderly cooked vegetables in Arabic herbs and spices and the final one had melted cheese inside – one of my favourites.
Sojuk was next on the dish which was pan-seared homemade Lebanese spicy sausages cooked in pomegranate molasses – these where a party favourite. The Sojuk was bursting full of flavour and nicely spiced. It worked well with the Labneh from the cold mezze platter. Finally, no mezze would be complete without grilled halloumi – these were topped with poppy and holly seeds.
We were so full from our delicious yet filling platter that we took a 30-minute break before the mains were placed in front of us so that we could savour it all. We were recommended the Maison’s Mixed Grill which contained some of the best meat dishes on the menu. The platter contained all the specialties such as char-grilled skewers of lamb cubes, chicken cubes, lamb cutlets and minced lamb kebab. All were deliciously coated in Middle Eastern spices and grilled to perfection. The meat was soft and melted in the mouth.
No main would be complete without some steamed rice. This Lebanese rice was grainy and beautifully cooked. It had the traditional vermicelli noodles to give it 2 types of texture – soft and crispy. It worked well with the meat dishes.
No meat and rice dish would be complete without some Arabic sauces to accompany them. Before us lay some amazing chilli sauce (not too spicy, just right) and garlic sauce. Dipping the meats into the sauces was a match made in heaven.
As if we were not full enough, the restaurant manager ordered some of the best desserts Maison Du Mezze had to offer. In front of us lay a feast of crispy beauties. We had an array of crispy baklava which was is sweet pastry made with layers of filo, filled with chopped nuts and held together with honey. These crispy and not too sweet pastry melted in the mouth and the crunchy nuts made it all the more wholesome.
Next up were some Hawlawet El Jebn which was a traditional cheese roll filled with Ashta clotted cream. The cheese rolls were light and creamy and the pistachios on top gave it another texture. It was topped with syrup so made a lovely balance between salty and sweet.
The final dessert of the night (by which point we were bursting to the brim) but yet couldn’t help but love was the Arabic take on the British rice pudding – rice pudding with a twist! This rice pudding was creamy and made with Arabic gum and flavoured with rose water and topped with pistachio and honey. I normally dislike rose water but the balance of rose water in this dessert was perfect – it wasn’t too overpowering and the creamy rice pudding cut through the sweet honey.
The night wouldn’t be complete without some Arabic mint tea. This mint tea contained freshly brewed Lipton tea and fresh mint – delicious. Just what we needed after all the food and those tasty baklavas!
If you are after some good honest Arabic food then Maison Du Mezze is the place. It is right in the heart of London and offers an array of dishes for any appetite!
Maison Du Mezze
14 Leicester Square, London, WC2H 7NG