"A touch of Middle Eastern decadence"Review Rating: Reviewed by Leila
I came across a sumptuous affair at Levant recently. The ornate décor, delicious food and supremely accommodating staff made me feel like a wealthy heiress despite being a self proclaimed pauper.
Situated on a cute backstreet off Wigmore Street, we decided to brave the inclement August weather and sit outside to smoke shisha. A recent convert, I can’t claim to be an expert but never fail to marvel at being able to smoke flavours like peach, apple and melon.
We were only intending to have shisha and cocktails, but glancing through the menu we thought maybe we should order a few mezze to share. We ended up with a huge platter of little dishes, stuffing ourselves silly to the point where we could barely move. Plates of hummus, falafels, grilled halloumi, potato and coriander balls, mint & yoghurt dip, pastries filled with feta, and tahini dissapeared as quickly as they’d arrived. Unfortunately our greedy appetites would make this a rather expensive evening (bearing in mind we did have a few cocktails), but I’d defy anyone to be able to resist all this wondrous food.
A mixed nut roast turned up which we endeavoured to find out the ingredients of (I am allergic to hazelnuts; strangely enough no other nuts affect me). Our waiter wasn’t sure and simply said as it was a mixed nut dish it probably contained everything. I contented myself with my vanilla and lime juice cocktail, and I’d also recommend the Assif cocktail, a blend of cranberry, lemon juice, and Absolut mandarin served with pomegranate seeds over the top, highly palatable for those with fruitier appetites. Upon eventually learning the mixed nut roast contained no hazelnuts I launched myself upon it. It didn’t disappoint.
As it started to rain we moved along with the other customers to the shelter of a shop roof next door. The waiters brought our stools and shisha for us, along with a game of backgammon for the people sitting next to us, who were enjoying mint tea with a five tier tray of baklava and fruit. I made a mental note to return during the day to try this decadent option.
The cold finally got the better of us and we moved inside to the restaurant area. As ornate as a palace but tastefully so, the intoxicating smell of incense prevailed, while heavily made up Middle Eastern women swooped past. Being half Iranian myself, I am accustomed to the prominent lipstick, over arched eyebrows and nose jobs, and found it all rather amusing. As the belly dancers walked in, my friends relayed an account of a dancer grinding against their meal last time they were here, and we wondered whether it might be time to leave, as we found the prospect a little embarrassing.
A couple sat down next to us for dinner despite it being after 11pm, handy when so many restaurants close their kitchens at 10.30pm. We caught a few seconds of the dancers’ hip swivelling routine just before leaving and noticing the girl next to us launch an attack on her boyfriend should he get distracted.
Leila reviewed Levant Bar & Restaurant on Tue 26 Aug 2008