By Nick Searle-Donoso, First Year English Literature
Upon entering Lebaneat, one is transported to the busy, bustling streets of Beirut and engulfed in the smells from a multitude of red-hot food stalls. Faced with dancing waiters and Middle Eastern techno-pop, I could have easily stepped into a restaurant in Lebanon itself. Once seated, a bright, ogre-green lemonade was placed in front of me; a tentative sip taken, and I was at once hit by the fizz of fresh zizzing lemon.
For starter, I ordered the vegetarian platter with the firm intention to try as many of the Lebanese delicacies as possible. Resting on the gleaming silver platter was hummus, Baba Ghanoush (finely chopped grilled aubergine), Wark Inab (vine leaves filled with rice), Tabbouleh (a parsley, tomato and cracked wheat salad), Labneh (Lebanese cream cheese with mint and cucumber), Batata Harra (roasted potatoes with peppers and chillies), and Jebne Halloumi. Sitting on the side was the softest of Lebanese bread with a wonderfully pillowy texture. At the centre of the platter sat the hitherto unmentioned falafel, which are deep fried chickpea croquettes. I approached these crispy balls with caution; my only previous experience of falafel had left me vomiting into a toilet. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this traumatic experience had somewhat put me off the whole concept of falafel. However, this experience soon disappeared from my mind as my teeth sank into their deliciously contrasting crunchy exterior and soft interior.
For my main course, I ordered the Lahem Meshwi, which were succulently chargrilled skewers of tender lamb chunks, served with appropriately crunchy chips and unfortunately unremarkable grilled vegetables. Therefore, although Lebaneat is pricy, especially on a student budget, with starters averaging five pounds and mains averaging twelve pounds, I would definitely recommend it for a deep dive into the Middle East.
Photographs by Nick Searle-Donoso.