Category Archives: Lebanese

Cafe Route

Interior, is a typical industrial look with exposed kitchen. Tables are long with enough with room for your typical Dalston guy on the laptop and groups of friends. All cafes that do not rush you to finish your food and get out get a massive bonus in my books. And Cafe Route is exactly a place like this, tucked it away from busy Kingsland road, it a great spot to grab a healthy meal or very good coffee.

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Having spent last few days eating very heavy fried foods, I was pleased with a refreshing vegetable heavy menu at Cafe Route. Their Mediterranean inspired salads were complex, what seemed as minimum eight ingredient mash ups, that delivered very surprising taste combinations. Not to mention extremely generous portions. I had to take half of my main home for nibbles later.

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Chicken thigh with roasted pepper, haloumi in flat bread looked very pretty and was delicious! Served with a perfect side of potato wedges, it was a big meal.

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Sweet potato with tahini sauce and chickpeas was lovely and soft. Tahini added a touch of earthiness to this dish that i really enjoyed. Refreshing side salad of carrot, red pepper, broad beans was my favorite! Zingy and crispy it was a good contest to the main.

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We completed our very long dinner with a cup of strong coffee.

I like this place for it’s simple approach to food, it’s delicious food and easy atmosphere.

Cafe Route
Unit A Gaumont Tower, Dalston Square, London
http://www.caferoute.co.uk

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Al Arez

When we go to Edgware Rd in the late evenings it’s like we have entered a place where time doesn’t exist. The streets are always busy, families are out with their children, the restaurants are packed and open at all hours and there is a friendly hug and ‘salam’ between passers by on rotation. It is such a happy street of Arab cultures and best of all Middle Eastern food.

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We have been going to Al Arez since we were teenagers. The charm of shisha being smoked outside and well cheap food is always an attraction to an adolescent. However, the food is what keeps us coming back as our lungs can’t handle the shisha pipes anymore.

The menu is Lebanese and the service is Middle Eastern in style, very friendly and charming. Depending on the day and what they have to offer you are served complimentary dishes upon arrival. One staple complimentary item are the Middle Eastern pickled peppers and olives which are a treat.

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This is the restaurant in which we fell in love with the fattoush salad and since no one has been able to match up to it. So naturally it is the first thing we order. The crunch, the hit of sour and tangy flavours, the juiciness of the salad vegetables, so mouth watering. I always as for extra croutons for that extra crunch.

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When we go to any lebanese or Middle Eastern restaurant we always opt for a tapas style of dining so lots of little dishes and maybe one meaty main to share. It’s the best way to make the most of all the dishes that they have to offer. Don’t know be scared to get stuck in with your hands and make a mess, it’s the thing to do at Al Arez.

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Staples to recommend are the hummus shawarma which is freshly ground hummus with grilling lamb on top, great to scoop up with the fresh Lebanese bread they have on tap. We would also recommend the Arayes Al Arez which is grilled lebanese bread stuffed with spicy minced meat, the bread is uber fresh and my meat just melts in the mouth. I suggest you smother it in the delicious garlic sauce they make in house. The kibbeh is also a lovely dish which has a cracked wheat shell and a juicy meaty centre. Perfect combination of protein and carbs.

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Al Arez are also known for their fresh juices. Zero additives, just pure fruit juice and some ice of course. I love the fresh strawberry juicy but the Lebanese are known for their lime and mint juice which is really refreshing and zesty but far too strong for my delicate tongue.

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Like all Middle Eastern hospitality all bills are handed over with a plate of complimentary baklava. Fresh and crisp. Perfect way to end your fabulous meal at Al Arez.

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Al Arez are so popular they have about five different locations on the same street but we always prefer the original which is closer towards the Marble Arch end.

So when you are lost and hungry in the middle of the night, day, morning, head on down to friendly Edgware Rd and give trust worthy Al Arez a go.

Al Arez
101 Edgware Road, London W2 2HX
alarez.co.uk

Comptoir Libanais

Lebanese food galore. Elena and I are shopaholics as you know and Comptoir Libanais has become our stop shop for a quick bite to fuel up before we head back to the shops.

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We have a love affair with fattoush salad as you know but Comptoir Libanais have taken our simple fattoush salad and added falafels to it and well we couldn’t be happier. The warm falafels make the salad even more filling so it can be had as a main easily. The reason we love this is for four simple reasons:

1. The pickles which are apparently from the Dead Sea. Super crunchy and salty
2. The bits of fried bread which add a lovely crunch while you eat
3. The sumac dressing – makes me salivate with its mixture of sour and spice
4. Huge falafels that are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside

It is a must try salad and especially refreshing during the summer.

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If you are feeling uber hungry like we were on this occasion try their mezze platters and the kibbeh if you fancy some meat. The mezze platter comes with a range of cold dips like hummus and babaganosh. Each with a different combination of flavours and textures. The portion size could easily serve 3-4 even though the recommendation states 2. However, we would never complain.

The kibbeh has a cracked wheat exterior and is filled with spicy minced meat. You must have it with the garlic sauce which you need to ask for. This dish is served warm and is very tasty. It looks rather odd so you will have to take our word for it.

Comptoir Libanais have a range of tagines and wraps which we have eaten our way through over the years and can highly recommend everything they offer. The desserts are amazing. Whether you like baklava or almond cake, they have a wide selection of sweets to curb that sweet tooth at the end of the meal.

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We had only really encountered this restaurant at food courts but I was happily surprised to see an actual restaurant with a grocery store attached to it in Kingston by the river. Can’t wait to sit by the river and munch on our beloved fattosh salad during the summer. Oh yeh, and stock up on pickles from your shop!!!!
We love you Comptoir Libanais.

Comptoir Libanais
Westfield Stratford City, London, E20 1EJ
http://www.comptoirlibanais.com

Mandaloun

Part of the original fabric of Westfields White City, Mandaloun brings a little bit of the Middle East to the Southern Terrace.

Mandaloun is a very modern take on Lebanese cuisine. Elena and I will often have a quick snack in between shopping but it does feel like an endless supply of food. We love mezze dining in which you order half a dozen dishes and as you finish two another three show up so you end up losing track of what you have eaten and how much in fact.

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Some of our fan favourites are the fattoush salad which is fresh and zesty, it is one of the dishes that Elena refuses to share with me and I don’t blame her as I want my own healthy portion too. It was the place we fell in love with sumac seasoning and now have our own stock at home.
The hummus shawarma is also another mezze to die for. Fresh hummus topped with pan fried meat. You can help but dip the endless supply of warm flat bread into the fresh chick pea dip and top it with a generous helping of meat. Yum.

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Mandaloun has both mezzes and mains but we do like to have the opportunity to eat loads of different dishes. Each one packed with more flavour than the last. Mandaloun is a great place to go during a summer evening if you are a fan of shisha as it house an outdoor shisha lounge.
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Now we have to admit the service is the only downer to this place and it often makes us wonder why we go back. We are suckers for good food so if you can handle inattentive staff and miscalculated bills then it isn’t too bad but please do check you bill as the staff have a habit of including items you would never have ordered. Mandaloun is more about the food and decor than the customer service which makes no sense as the mark up on the food is also a question mark as to where it is all going.

Star Rating: **

Mandaloun

Southern Terrace

Westfield Shopping center

London W12 7GF

http://mandaloun.com