Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Beirut Express: great dinner for under 10 quid in London

I remember what a major letdown was Time Out's Cheap Eats in London guidebook: a random list of fast food grease joints and places that cost 15-20 pounds a pop. Since then I discovered that London is, indeed, chock-a-block with places where you can eat very well under a tenner and they crop up in most unexpected places.

Take Beirut Express: it looks like your common-and-garden urban caff, if decorated in a distinct Levantine style of 80s marble and nickel surfaces. The only giveaway that you can also feed your face here, are two giant kebab "elephant legs" slowly swivelling in the corner. Luckily, I know that they have way better stuff up their sleeve. Check their menu and you will see the classic Middle Eastern lineup of starters, grilled meats and sweets.

Last time I went there with a Japanese girl friend who does not eat much anyway, it took us close to three hours to finish the gigantic platters of starters (meze) and mixed grilled meats (meshawi). This time around there were three of us to feed on those and that filled us up for the rest of the day.

As it goes with Levantine food, the variety is limited and repeated time after time again, but everything you get is utterly fresh and cooked to perfection.

Make sure to try their jellab drink - rose-flavoured date juice, intensely fragrant and sweet.

Pro's: Superlative Lebanese grub. Friendly service. Big portions. Affordable.
Con's: Tables next to the entrance are a tad drafty.
In a nutshell: Levantine cuisine at its usual best.

Beirut Express 112-114 Edgware Road London W2 2 DZ

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