Monday, 17 March 2014

Layla - good Lebanese food in Wimbledon

Over the weekend, the girlfriend and I visited Layla - a Lebanese restaurant situated along the High Street in Wimbledon, London.  I was really looking forward to it; I had a look at the menu beforehand (as I often do) and I knew there would be things there that I wanted to try. 

Inside, the restaurant is spacious, clean and modern (though still retaining a Lebanese theme), which is not a surprise given that it's only been open for a few months.  But more importantly, how did I find the food?

I decided to go with the tasting menu for two (at £25 per person).  Variety is good, right?  

We started off with a mixture of hot and cold mezzes:

  • Lebanese bread.
  • Vine leaves filled with rice, herbs and spices.
  • Hommus - chick pea and garlic dip.
  • Patata harra - diced potatoes spiced with coriander and garlic.
  • Tabouleh - parsley salad.
  • Kibbeh - cracked wheat shells filled with lamb and pine nuts.
  • Cheese bourak 
It was a very good start and all the mezzes were delicious.  The kibbeh was my girlfriend's favourite.  It's like a croquette filled with meat and, while it looks dry from the picture, the inside is soft, moist and well-flavoured.

My personal favourite was the tabouleh (shown in its own picture below); I really liked the fresh and tangy flavour and it seemed to go really well with the other mezzes.

The hommus was beautifully smooth (like in Haz and Fora - so the supermarkets must be doing it wrong!), while the patata harra was mildly spicy, complementing the other flavours.  I also really liked the vine leaves, while the cheese bourak was not bad, despite me not normally liking deep fried cheese.

Tabouleh.
Next up were the two mains.  The kafta dish - with two generous-sized pieces of lamb - was well-seasoned (and meaty!), and the sauces worked well with the meat, while the vegetables were flavoursome.

Kafta - lamb shish kebab and roast vegetables, mint yoghurt and tomato salsa. 
However, the chicken curry was our favourite out of the two mains.  Though not particularly meaty, the sauce made the dish stand out.  It was not oily (as with some curries), nor particularly spicy, but there was a unique fruity taste and pleasant texture to it.  My girlfriend raved about the sauce!

Layla's chicken curry.
As the meal drew to a close, we were given a selection of baklawa with strawberries and cream.  Though a bit greasy, the baklawa were crispy and had a nice bite to it.  I've never been a big fan of things that are too sweet, but the baklawa's sweetness was countered by the cream, while the strawberries were refreshing - a good combination.

Baklawa - layered pastries with almonds, pistachios and pine kernels.
Overall, the tasting menu gave us lots of choice and we really enjoyed our time at Layla.  The flavours were generally good and portion sizes were generous, leaving us satisfied as we left  The restaurant was full and I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes more popular in the future as it builds up its reputation.

Nearest Tube: Wimbledon

Disclosure: my girlfriend and I were offered a free meal at Layla in return for this review.  However at no point were we encouraged to provide a positive review.

Layla on Urbanspoon