A sister to the Mayfair venue, Mamounia Lounge Kensington indulges you in Arabic culture by stimulating the five senses. And it really is a pleasurable experience.
A stone’s throw from Harrods, Mamounia Lounge sits comfortably on the buzzing high street. Stepping in, the inviting smell of subtly sweet incense and dim, intimate lighting welcome you into what feels like a first-class hideaway. Throughout, you’ll notice the attention to detail that keeps your eyes curious and hands itching to touch, from delicate mesh curtains and long fringed curtains used as partitions, to patterned wallpaper, dimpled Ostrich leather seats and gold floral-patterned wall light shades. All this is contrasted by slim, clean lines from the tables, the bar, the cutlery and the glassware, ensuring that it avoids being over elaborate. The decent-sized bar is set in the middle of what's a deceptively long restaurant and displays an impressive collection of spirits, proving this place offers more than food. Outdoor seating at the front is available for those to enjoy the many different flavours of shisha.
With the attentive waitresses wearing black hoodies with the venue’s logo on the back, it’s clear that this is simply a place to relax. The staff have a good knowledge of each dish and are happy to recommend what’s best. Despite the upper-class location, you’ll find no pretension or arrogance. The clientele is a mix of friends, couples and colleagues, none of whom are particularly dressed-up - it’s a casual affair. A beautiful belly dancer performs on Friday and Saturday nights, and although her making her way around the restaurant is a lovely touch, it can border on awkward as she approaches smaller tables. Chill-out house music with Arabic accents is played for dinner and as the night progresses, more upbeat tunes are played to help crossover into a bar-type feel. The impressive speakers don’t blare out the music but keep it at the perfect volume to have a conversation without allowing your neighbours to eavesdrop.
The menu can be overwhelming because there is so much choice, with most of them involving lamb, as per tradition. However there are plenty of vegetarian mezze options too. The must-have mezze are the falafel (£6) which is wondrously moist inside with a crunchy exterior and served with perfectly balanced, tangy tahina; beautifully creamy houmous (£5) served as a ring and with home-made pitta bread; and mohammara (£5) consisting of mixed chopped nuts with chilli and red pepper – you won’t want them to finish. The whitebait (£7) is very generous but might not be to everyone’s taste as it’s very salty with its naturally fishy aroma.
The kafta orfalieh with aubergine (£14) is simply delicious, effortlessly erupting with coriander and an understated mix of spices that make this dish so special. Served with brown rice, it's the slice of tortilla coated in chilli sauce and herbs that gives this dish extra oomph. The dish of the day, bamia (£16) served with white rice with vermicelli noodles is slightly less impressive. Despite the gorgeously soft and tender lamb that's stewed to perfection, the dish as a whole feels fairly bland in terms of seasoning and spices when compared to other options.
For dessert, the chocolate fondant (£9) and vanilla ice cream is most definitely worth the 20 minute wait: soft, chocolatey and gooey on the inside, this is any chocoholic’s fantasy. For a lighter, more refreshing dessert, the Moroccan pudding habalabia (£6), with chopped pistachios drizzled with a slightly fragrant syrup, is beautifully creamy and silky.
The Malbec Shiraz Libertad is an easy, fruity wine to accompany the flavoursome lamb dishes. Mamounia Lounge offers a creative cocktail list with enough varieties appropriate for the venue’s size. The passion fruit mojito (£10) is phenomenal – the combination of mint, sugar, passion fruit and rum is perfection. For those going tee-total, non-alcoholic cocktails are available with optional boosts (£1) to de-stress, or even help love blossom.
The Last Word
Good food and an intoxicating atmosphere make Mamounia Lounge a fantastic new addition to Knightsbridge. Make sure you pay a visit before word gets out.