The Lebanese Bakery (Harrods) – Knightsbridge, LondonHALAL STATUS Fully Halal
This will be a great opportunity to promote the Lebanese food culture and our star item the Manousheh to an exclusive and international crowd. – Samer Chamoun, co-founder.
Our return to The Lebanese Bakery (TLB) was an anticipated one not least because this particular venue was situated in the world famous luxury department store, Harrods, in Knightsbridge.
We were also hoping for an improvement on the 3.5/5 rating their first branch in Covent Garden barely managed to attain back in 2018, while questioning whether such a simple menu, which revolves around a traditional Lebanese flat bread called Manousheh, would be able to compete against the rich variety of choices available elsewhere.
That question, at least, was emphatically answered earlier this year in August with the launch of their second restaurant on the 4th floor of swanky Harrods.
Of course, co-founder Samer Chamoun was confident when making the announcement that “being in such a prestigious institution like Harrods” would “be a great opportunity to promote the Lebanese food culture and our star item the Manousheh to an exclusive and international crowd”.
Unlike the first branch, where alcohol is available for purchase, this particular one is entirely Halal, with their menu succinctly confirming: “All our meat is 100% Halal-certified.”
And as would be expected, TLB has, in keeping with Harrods’ strict Covid-19 protocols, implemented precautions that include a one way ordering system, the use of clear perspex glass as protective barriers in between tables of a 22-cover cafeteria, and the use of PPE by all members of staff.
As with most eateries having to adjust to the challenges of a Covid-hit hospitality industry, TLB Harrods has been forced to cut back on what it deems to be unnecessary expenditure, which includes stripping back on its menu.
As such, their Specials, that include the classic Homemade Ayran, Rose Water Sherbet, and a trio of delicious-sounding Lattes, aren’t currently available; and so we had to make do with a pair of perfectly good and freshly made glasses of Orange and Lemonade.
Encased in light and ultra-crispy spring roll wrappers was this moist, tender, and mildly spiced chicken mixture whose natural sweetness was offset by a touch of sourness coming through with every bite.
And having been freshly prepared, as opposed to lazily brought in, these resulted in some of the best spring rolls we’ve had in years!
With four varieties which are served as a portion of four, we persuaded them to offer us one of each for a more comprehensive review. The best of the quartet, therefore, was the Spinach and the Bulghareh Cheese, but for entirely different reasons.
Hence, while the former’s leafy green richness came through strongly with a hint of zinginess, the herbaceous soft cheese in the latter had a good piquancy to it.
And though the Olives succeeded in delivering that familiar salty pungency, we did find the pastry casing to be slightly more dense than the rest.
As for the Purslane, then it was an aromatic parcel which we thoroughly enjoyed. If you can, do request getting one of each to experience their full range.
Boasting a light and crumbly pastry, this Meat Kebbeh contained a minced beef mixture which, though somewhat on the dry side, was fairly flavourous.
As for the Pumpkin Kebbeh, then despite betraying a firmer texture than its cousin above, this was far more subdued, with the earthiness of spinach lingering there or thereabouts. A pleasant enough bite, but one that isn’t quite as good as any of the aforementioned Fatayers.
Sadly, it was one of those ingredients that TLB have temporarily suspended as part of its Covid-oriented cutbacks, forcing us to go au natural.
What we got was a peculiar Hummus which, instead of being silky smooth, was reminiscent of creamy mashed potatoes, which eventually betrayed a dry almost chalky texture.
Otherwise, it tasted decent enough; and could have been better with a stronger squeeze of the lemon.RECOMMENDED
There was no doubting the quality and execution of this luxuriously creamy Baba Ghanouj, whose deep smoky aroma was interspersed by subtle notes of the sweet and sour.
Possibly the best one we’ve ever had; and one which will probably be shortlisted for our end of year awards.RECOMMENDED
Our task of choosing just one appetiser for the Recommended Menu below was then made all the more difficult with this supercharged Muhammara.
An expertly balanced bowl of goodness, which managed to temper the astringency of the roasted red pepper with just the right amount of spiciness, before tailing off with a sweet-tangy aftertaste.
Couple that with the crunch of the crushed walnuts and the occasional burst of the pomegranate seeds, and we were left floored by the pleasant assault to our senses.
And though this was a relatively tasty affair, we can only imagine how much better this would have been had the addition of bone marrow been made available.
Sadly, this was another ingredient temporarily excised from a Covid streamlined menu.
The Kafta was everything the previous Kafta, reviewed at TLB’s Covent Garden branch, failed to be. Whilst “the meat wasn’t that tasty” back then, this time, not only was the mixture of the mildly spicy beef and lamb perfectly seasoned, with that distinct umami flavour of quality mince, but was also enhanced by small dollups of the incredible muhammara had above, followed by moments of sharpness thanks to the thin slices of pickle.
But what really elevated this to a whole new level was the accompanying yoghurt and tahini sauce, which added that much needed sourness to what was otherwise a defining Manousheh.
ALL DAY MANAKEESHRECOMMENDED
Right off the bat, and based on first appearances alone, it was obvious that this Bayd Shakshuka would turn out to be a good’un. And so it turned out.
Combining the velvety iron richness of the beautifully adjudged eggs with the creamy, almost sundried pungency of the lightly piquant tomato base, you’ll immediately recognise as we did, that this Bayd Shakshuka is out to challenge people’s breakfast routines. Just don’t forget to order a pot of tea with this!
A refreshing Fattoush Aubergine, which had all the textures accounted for ranging from the crunchy – courtesy of the thin slices of radish, cucumber and kaakeh crisps – to the soft and gooey, with pieces of baby aubergine.
Flavour-wise, while this was dressed in a light vinegary pomegranate drizzle, we did pick up on the occasional freshnessof a mint leaf here and there.
What an intriguing dessert this Debess & Tahini was. Sticky and crunchy, with that mixture of carob molasses and crushed caramelised almonds generously spread about, be sure to have this fresh out of the oven to really enjoy its full effect.
Unlike the Halawa served at their first branch, which only used strawberry, this version’s option of seasonal berries meant a greater variety of fragrant flavours.
What’s more, it meant far more fresh berry juice too, which was desperately needed to counter, what was otherwise, a dry and chalky textured halawa topped with far too much pistachio crumble.
And with a variety of teas and coffees available, we opted for some Lebanese-inspired Black Tea with mint to wash these desserts down.
- NO/ NO
- DISABLED FACILITIES
With definite improvements all around, especially across their signature Manoushehs, as well as some of the best Baba Ghanouj and Muhammara we've had, we've now begun to understand and appreciate the subsequent hype surrounding this brand since we last reviewed them.
With manager, Oksana, at the helm, and a fastidious chef who made certain that every Manousheh coming out of his humongous oven was properly cooked underneath, this place is worth a visit for something light and different. Don't forget though, you're in Harrods; so be prepared for those premium prices (or make friends with one of the many Arabs roaming the store and get them to pay).
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