I love to be pleasantly surprised. Who doesn’t? Chancing upon The Lebanese Diner while doing some leisurely Sunday shopping was indeed such an occasion. We went shopping along Kensington High Street and lunch was foremost on the list. I was ravenous yet didn’t have a clue what we should have. We passed a few of our regular choices and finally looked down one of the lanes and thought we saw a ‘kebab joint’. Coming up close, we nearly turned away thinking that it was an expensive and posh restaurant instead. However, our growling tummies encouraged us to probe further and we checked out the menu at the door. What caught our attention was ‘shawarma’ for only £3.50!!!
Our first shawarma experience was in Morocco and we had great memories from that! We looked no further and ventured in for our late lunch. At about 2pm, the place was still bustling and diners were still streaming in. It’s a good sign…
We ordered a side of bread and some baba ganoush for starters. The bread was fresh and warm from the oven and oh-so-gooooood! Baba ganoush is a Middle Eastern eggplant (aubergine) dip, very similar to hommus, where the eggplant is usually roasted till soft, then mashed with loads of herbs, spices and yogurt. Aside from the fact that it was a tad cold…the dip was delish. Soft spreadable eggplant, all gooey and garlicky…with the warm pita bread…oh yum.
Now on to SHAWARMA time! Our memories of shawarmas – the moroccan kind – are basically wraps of grilled meat, cheese, mushroom etc etc…this one’s no different. Minus the roadside ‘add-ons’ like cheese and mushroom, of course. We ordered a lamb and a chicken shawarma to share. Although compared to the greek souvlakis or the kebab joint wraps, it was rather small – we found the meal to be comfortably filling and satisfying, with no further need to order any extras…
The lamb shawarma was filled with chunks of juicy marinated lamb, onions, pickles and tomatoes. Not a whole heap of ingredients, but they complemented each other and brought our amazing, clean flavours.
The chicken shawarma was similar but it had more spices to the marinade and vegetables instead of onions and pickles. The meat was succulent and well marinated. Every mouthful was a taste sensation.
This little dining haven is a treasure and we will definitely be back for more. Apparently, lunch is a casual affair, and evenings are slightly more dressy and romantic. It doesn’t matter to me as long as the food is as earthy and melt-in-the-mouth as those £3.50 shawarmas…
The Lebanese Diner
1a Argyll Road,
London, W8 7DB