A large, modern and eye-catching Lebanese restaurant on a road that was in need of some culinary love.
There aren't a huge number of decent restaurants in the immediate locale, so it's nice to see somewhere that takes cooking seriously. In contrast to Dalila's simple black and white exterior, the interior is meticulously decorated with red leather chairs, a few paintings, vases filled with flowers, lamps, mirrors, lanterns and ornaments. It is ever so slightly passé but wholesome, homely and clean-cut nonetheless.
The service is polite and friendly, and the staff are wonderfully informed on both the wines and the food they have on offer. The bar at the back of the restaurant is stocked up with a decent array of beverages, and would provide a nice area for a casual catch up over a bit of mezze and a glass or two of wine. At the moment, weekday evenings are undeniably quiet but no doubt the ambience will improve as local custom and passing trade increases.
The menu is an interesting one and full of a fair few favourites, though there are also more interesting adaptions of classic Middle Eastern dishes. The Dalila falafel (£6.25), for example, is hollowed out and filled with mixed pickles and sesame sauce for a crunchy, coleslaw-esque delight. The moutabal (£5.25), a grilled aubergine purée with sesame paste and lemon juice is smoky and moreish, while the hummus awarma (£6.50) is still the chickpea dip we all know and love but this version boasts the added bonus of being topped with diced marinated lamb. The fatayer Lebanese pastries (£5.25) filled with spinach, onions, pine kernels and sumac are moist, well-seasoned and good. The homemade Lebanese spicy sausages (£6.50) are the only slight disappointment: highly spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, they have a strange texture and are smothered in a rather insipid tomato sauce.
The mains are both served on a wooden board, enabling you to get stuck in with your hands to essentially personalise your kebab. A shish taouk (£13.25) is a classic shish kebab of succulent chicken pieces cooked over charcoal, and the shawarma lamb (£12.50) closer to a doner kebab but with considerably more refinement. Both are served on Lebanese flatbreads with chips in a basket on the side and the all-important chilli sauce and aioli to load on top. A sharp fattoush salad (£5.75) of the usual suspects but the added bonus of mint, toasted Lebanese bread, sumac and pomegranate seeds is a wonderful fresh accompaniment to the meat. And for something a little more sophisticated, try the braised leg of lamb (£13.25) or the grilled sea bass (£17.90), both of which reinforce the point that this is a menu filled with well-executed and flavoursome food.
A bottle of Lebanese wine is real treat, Chateau Khoury Cuvee Sainte Therese at £25.50 has a dark purple hue and is very dry with a distinct lingering taste of berries which accompanies the highly-spiced food very well. French, Spanish and Italian wines are also on offer if you’d rather stick to what you know, and a fully equipped bar means the majority of whims can be satisfied.
The Last Word
A restaurant with a lot of potential and some great, inventive Lebanese food. All it needs now is word to get out, to make it a little less quiet.