Restaurants & Bars

Lebanese

Ishbilya (Lebanese), William Street, Knightsbridge

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Ishbilya (Lebanese), William Street, Knightsbridge

S-RC | Apr 23, 2002 09:59 AM

The falafels were freshly made - There was no overpowering flavour as
sometimes can happen - garlic and parsley had rightly been used to enhance
the flavour rather than take over. And the healthy quantity of sesame seeds
on the outside added not only to the flavour but gave it a nice biting
texture.

The boiled chickpeas may at first appear bland, but, like a flower, you had
to take a moment to take in its delicate flavour... once I took a moment to
contemplate each mouthful, I was able to appreciate a subtlety that hurried
eating would be unable to recognise.

The broadbeans were a complete surprise. Ordered by mistake, I was not sure
what to expect. However, It turned out to be the highlight of the evening's
dishes. Simply flavoured with garlic and coriander it also had an edge of
sweetness that made it altogether delicious. My dining partner and I
actually fought over who ate the last spoonful.

Falafel - 7/10 for its 'traditional' quality
Broadbeans - 9/10 - minus 1 for oiliness.
And bolied chickpeas - 6/10 for being able to make somithing so simople,
effective, minus 2 for mushiness, minus 1 for oiliness.

The potato cubes in the batata harra were not fried to a crisp but soft all over- I imagine they had been fried very slowly. There was little garlic and the dish was only gently spicy, contrasting with an earlier meal where they were spicy to a fault. This was perhaps the most 'complete' dish of the evening- the reducing of the potatoes and peppers to the same texture made their flavours combine readily in the mouth. Another very oily dish though.

We were warned off the 'variant' hummus we ordered (with added garlic and cumin) by first one and then a second more forceful waiter. [Their speed of response was like they were invoking an emergency procedure should anyone order that dish]. The second waiter chose to use the phrase 'trust me' to convince us. So we went for 'plain' hummus. It was gelato-smooth and creamy and garnished with whole chickpeas, parsley, cayenne, red sweet peppers and oil. I thought the sesame flavour (from the tahini) was stronger than the chickpea.

The wholemeal pocket bread was 'homemade', unique in Lebanese restaurants in London in my experience. It was tasty and fresh enough to warrant the extra effort.

Restaurant looks nice on the outside but is quite plain on the inside...

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