85 Picadilly, Mayfair +44 207 493 3424 website
Background: OpenTable: London Restaurants is an amazing thing. If you are not familiar with it, then please stop reading and click the link. There are incredible deals to be had at many restaurants including some of the really fancy and sought after ones. I will admit that Fakhreldine is not one of those. But given that London has burst into flower and the recent weather has every woman (including myself) and some men breaking a sweat at the thought of bathing suit season, some light Lebanese fare was what Bibi, my companion for the evening, and I opted for. By heritage I am technically one quarter Lebanese, which by American standards means my grandmother was from Texas of Lebanese parents. Thus, my knowledge of Middle Eastern food is lacking past hoummos and falafel, both, however, are staunch favourites.
The décor, although new and modern, could probably do for a refit. Icicle Christmas lights hang outside and the interior is modern but bathed in cheesy mirrors and red roses. There were no belly dancers, thankfully, if there were it would be a no go (apparently there are belly dancers on the weekends) for that sort of entertainment I would rather eat at Medieval Times. But the view of Green Park is beautiful and if you get a table by the window it doesn’t really matter what the restaurant looks like.
Starters: Between the two of us we had three starters: the Tabboulé, the Kibbé mekliyeh and the Hoummos awarma. The Tabboulé was very fresh and was a great complement to the other dishes. The Kibbé was crispy on the outside yet juicy on the inside as any croquet should be and the Hoummos was, well, hoummos. This was supposed to be special hoummos topped with lamb and pine nuts. The lamb was good but was slightly too reminiscent of your casual street shwarma stall for one to think it was actually prepared for this dish and not just a discard of another dish. That being said, I like both hoummos and ‘street meat’ a lot so I was ok with it.
Mains: For the mains we opted for the Taouk skewers, marinated chicken breast cubes with potatoes & garlic dip and the Kastaleta, lamb cutlets served with a cold lentil puree. The Taouk did not come on skewers but rather wrapped in flat bread, which for your inner child could be a disappointment, and the chicken was slightly too dry. It was, however, well seasoned and the garlic dipping sauce, the highlight of the dish, was very good but I don't know many bad garlic sauces. Neither of us touched one potato, potentially it was our fear of the looming bikini season, but, in reality, they just didn’t look worth it. The Kastaleta was good. The lamb was well cooked and juicy and the accompaniment was very good, although it didn’t strike as a cold lentil puree.
Closing thoughts: This view is fantastic and the food is good. The food doesn’t really get you talking about it though. The prices on the menu certainly suggest that you are, in fact, paying for the view. We booked through toptable and therefore had 50% off food and a complementary glass of wine, for that price, the view with some food was worth it, at full price I am not convinced. A tourist grab for sure, I was thinking, but as the restaurant filled up it was a mostly Middle Eastern clientele, curious. So if you have a hankering for some Lebanese food and you are in the neighbourhood and love park views then go, otherwise I might give it a miss.
Silverware: Not nearly as baroque as the décor, quite tasteful and dainty.
Damage: £27 per person