September 02, 2012

Zagat: London's Top 5 Lebanese Restaurants

We hear that Lebanese food is replacing Indian as Britain's favourite cuisine - and we're hardly surprised. Filled with fresh vegetables, salads, lean meats, plenty of olive oil and lemon, it's healthy, easy to take-away and the leftovers taste just as good the next day.

Here are our top five picks when it comes to Middle Eastern dining.

No. 5: Maroush

  • Food: 22
  • Decor: 14
  • Service: 17
  • Cost: £30

For “significant portions” of “succulent” Lebanese fare, these “reliable” West End “oases” are “excellent value for money” (“the bowl of fresh vegetables on every table is a special touch”); the settings are “somewhat dated” and service is “patchy”, nevertheless it’s always “buzzy” and a “fave late-night-falafel-and-schwarma hangout” too, especially in Knightsbridge and Vere Street, which are open until 5 AM (the former nightly, the latter Thursday–Saturday). 21 Edgware Rd., W2; 020-7723-0773

No. 4: Al Sultan

  • Food: 23
  • Decor: 17
  • Service: 21
  • Cost: £36

There’s “always a warm welcome” at this Mayfair Lebanese whose “excellent quality food”, including a “seemingly endless” mezze selection, “draws a lot of Gulf visitors” (“just the place to see bling!”); true, it’s “not worth a special trip” if you’re looking for more than a “simple” setting, but if you seek “good value”, you’ll find it here. 51-52 Hertford St., W1; 020-7408-1155

No. 3: Al Hamra

  • Food: 23
  • Decor: 16
  • Service: 19
  • Cost: £39

Aficionados say you can’t get “closer to Beirut” than this “well-located” Shepherd Market stalwart offering “delicious” Lebanese victuals whose “large portions” are “good value for money”; quarters are “close”, “crowded” and “slightly dated” inside, but “you can eat outside” in summer here and at the even more affordable brasserie across the street. 31-33 Shepherd Mkt., W1; 020-7493-1954

No. 2: Al Waha

  • Food: 24
  • Decor: 16
  • Service: 22
  • Cost: £31

“Amazingly good” grills are just some of the “incredible” wares at this “great-value” Westbourne Grove Lebanese that boasts “nice staff”; the “only problems” are the “dated decor” and tables that are “too cramped”, so it helps that it’s “excellent for delivery.” 75 Westbourne Grove, W2; 020-7229-0806

No. 1: Ishbilia

  • Food: 25
  • Decor: 14
  • Service: 18
  • Cost: £41

“Wonderful” Lebanese cuisine is offered in a “huge variety” and for comparative “bargain” prices at this Belgravia venue where the crowd is always “convivial”, despite “bland” decor and “variable service”; for “great food in Harrods”, check out its offshoot, “oddly located in the middle of the luggage department.” 9 William St., SW1; 020-7235-7788

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