85 Piccadilly

Fakhreldine has a fabulous location, right on Piccadilly overlooking Green Park. As we came out of the tube and saw the fairy lights twinkling around the entrance we thought we were in for a treat. The venue is beautifully decorated and little candles lead you up stairs to the bar & restaurant which is suitably dark, loungey and opulent.

We stopped at the bar for a drink as we were a little early, and had an expertly mixed mojito and a delicious and unusual rose lemonade – though admittedly you wouldn’t want to drink more than one. At the allotted time we made our way to the table and started on the menu. There is a huge selection of mezze at Fakhreldine, and the main courses are split into grills and meals. Our waiter did say he would explain the menu but by the time he got back to us (it was very busy) we had deciphered it ourselves and were ready to go. We shared a selection of broad bean salad, grilled halloumi, lamb and flatbreads which were very tasty. The only downside being the lamb, which came luke warm and a little congealed on top.

We decided to go local with the wine and our waiter was brilliantly helpful as neither of us were very clued up on Lebanese wines. We ended up with a white wine similar to a Sauvignon, which was particularly drinkable, and as the wait for our food extended beyond an hour, we made some headway with the bottle.

We finally decided that we had waited long enough and had gone off the idea of dinner when the main courses arrived. My dining partner’s Moussaka came as a bowl of tepid vegetables, with no lamb and no sauce, and when we challenged the staff, we were told that what we were given was the traditional way of serving the dish and that meat had to be specifically requested on the order. The waiter did apologise and confessed that he hadn’t written it on our order but the menu quite clearly stated lamb with a vegetarian option. I fared slightly but not much better. I had ordered the aubergines, which should have arrived on the table as baby aubergines with lamb cubes, pine nuts and yoghurt. The components were all there in this case but again cold which was a shame as the lamb (the one forkful of it eaten) was very nicely flavoured, tasting full of cinnamon and comfortingly homely.

After calling the waitress over she simply took the plates away after one look at our faces – not the first time it had happened that evening I think (the table next to us waited nearly half an hour for their bill). I asked what had delayed our meal and was told that the restaurant was unexpectedly busy that evening which is what had caused the lengthy wait. Our waiter offered us something sweet to ‘finish the evening’, which I initially declined but was talked round on the premise it be on the table by the time my other half returned from the rest room. Instantly we had baklava, little pancakes and fritters, ice cream and a huge fruit platter in front of us and very, very nice it was too. If the idea was for us to leave on a good note then they managed it, it just wasn’t quite good enough to smooth out the rest of the evening! I would go back to Fakhreldine just to give it one more try, largely because the staff and the backdrop were great, but on busy nights at this restaurant, there’s still some work to be done.

Fakhreldine: 85 Piccadilly, London, W1J 7NB. Tel: 0207 493 3424.

Reviewer: Tara O’Reilly