2 - 3 Beauchamp Place,
Laya’Lina deserves better than the three tables of diners it has on the cold but festive Tuesday in December when I visited. The restaurant is shiny and new, with its fabulous lighting reflecting beautifully on the slick tableware. Hidden away from the main drag that is
Laya’Lina opened its doors three months ago and has yet to quite find its feet for the market. But it has what it takes to make it in the area. I always think Lebanese food lends itself to late nights and dancing (Laya’Lina has live music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights), but we dined in peace. This of course allowed good conversation to flow, as did the Lebanese Domaine Wardy Syrah wine we chose. Baffled by choice we allowed our very helpful waiter, Mario, to select a tasty array of mezze. The beautifully presented and ever popular hummus, baba ghanoush and bread, sizable sesame prawns and a hot selection (including cheese bourak, lamb and cheese sambusak, kibbeh, falafel) arrived in super quick time. Mario also cleverly suggested the marinated chicken livers with sautéed vegetable, which were the absolute highlight of the night. Perfectly executed, soft and ever-so-slightly pink on the inside, the really were the definition of delicious.
With the livers being the highlight, the strong second fiddle would have had to have been the baba ghanoush. With the warm bread it was everything baba ghanoush should be - supple, creamy and slightly smoky with its aubergine tang.
After the mezze feast, we could only manage one main dish between us. A selection of skewers including chicken taouk and lamb meshwi, and a single lamb cutlet served with roast vegetables came our way. The generous meat selection was served with a spicy tomato sauce and a very garlicky yoghurt salsa. The meats were well prepared if on the salty side of the palate.
Laya’Lina has pluck to take on the likes of Maroush II just down the road, (one of 11 restaurants in the popular London-based Lebanese chain, of whom AA Gill is a fan). Still I think it can do it. The food is comparably fresh and the dishes I sampled were tasty and well constructed. Most importantly they care about the food they have on their menus at Laya’Lina.
When asked if the pistachio and honey filled Baklawa was made on the premises, we were told that they were made by speciality bakers. Some of the tasty little parcels have even been imported from
A selection of mezzes, a main and dessert for two people will set you back by around £50-60. Wine prices start from £15. The Lebanese Syrah we tried was £27.50.
For more information, visit www.layalina.co.uk
**Reviewer:** Anne Giacomantonio