Maison Bab & The Big Zuu Kebab – Covent Garden, LondonHALAL STATUS Halal options (prepped & cooked separately) • Alcohol & pork served
Given how much the latter impressed us with its gourmet kebabs and menu, it was probably anticipointment, that and the use of an entirely different choice of kebab bread, which led us to adjudge the former 3.5/5.
Previously, we felt that the thicker naan breads used by Maison Bab were inferior and didn’t quite work as well as the flat breads we enjoyed at Le Bab.
Maison Bab subsequently contacted us following the publication of our review to inform us that they had “amended the bread recipe slightly, and the kebabs now come on a thinner bread base”.
Our return this time was motivated by two factors: a new limited edition kebab; and the restauant’s new and improved menu, which includes an upgraded kebab bread.
Thanks to an exciting collaboration between Le Bab and grime artist Big Zuu, The Big Zuu Kebab, as it’s been called, is available from today at both branches until 31st October.
Since our last visit, things have changed in more ways than one. Arguably the most important, after Covid-19 of course, is the restaurant’s appointment of Mark Armstrong as Head Chef. In addition, they’re now using a sourdough naan for their famous kebabs.
As always, however, Maison Bab offers Halal lamb and chicken, with very strict procedures and practices in place, including a dedicated storage space, work station, utensils, and a grill for the preparation and cooking of all their Halal dishes.
THE BIG ZUU KEBABRECOMMENDED
Anyone who’s familiar with Big Zuu will know that nothing he’s involved in is ever small; that alone was obvious when first coming face to face with The Big Zuu Kebab.
For those who don’t know, then this unlikely collaboration came about after Big Zuu’s introduction to Le Bab’s executive chef, Manu Canales, on an episode of the artist’s popular TV show, Big Zuu’s Big Eats on British television channel Dave, where he cooked at Maison Bab.
The two parties soon decided on creating this kebab, which draws on the influences of Big Zuu’s Lebanese and Sierra Leonian heritage, as well as his love for Italian cuisine.
The end result is a combination of free-range, barbecue grilled chicken shish and crispy fried chicken, with an incredible array of fillings that include “salt and vinegar cassava chips”, a scotch bonnet BBQ sauce, garlic toum, and grated parmesan.
And what we experienced was every bit as big as the personality that is Big Zuu. This was one kebab we won’t be forgetting in a hurry, with all of the textures and flavours accounted for.
You’ll encounter peaks and troughs of the soft and crunchy, ebbs and flows of the sweet and sour, and so much more, including the umami touch of the parmesan cheese dusting which lingered thereafter. An absolute triumph!
This Mint Time was as sophisticated a concoction as any mature palate could ever hope to try, with its mellow stretches of zesty sourness ending in the familiarly refreshing taste of the mint leaves therein. Just be sure to give this a little stir every now and then to enjoy the full effect.
The way in which the Tiki Bab gently undulated, from the citrusy sweet to the apple sour, only confirmed, with every given sip, that here was a talented mixologist with a solid all round game.
It was three out of three with the Sherri Mojito – a cola inspired beverage, with the hint of mint in the background being over taken by a touch of spiciness, which you’ll find soothingly settle at the back of the palate. What a wonderful experience!
During our last review of Maison Bab, we concluded: “Beverages were pretty poor, and, in all honesty, not too dissimilar to the ones we recall enduring at Le Bab.”
It couldn’t have been more different this time round. Their new mixologist, Raffa, wasn’t just super passionate about his craft, but has produced arguably the frontrunners for our end of year awards. He was also generous enough to share the ingredients and their exact measurements for any budding mixologists out there.
Turkish Korean Fried Chicken with an über crispy coating that surrounded some superbly tender flesh.
Covered in lashings of this rich and creamy chilli date sauce, we couldn’t get enough of all that sweet liquorice goodness and the mild heat it generated.
Thank goodness for that thick garlic mayo dip too, which helped in countering said heat of that finger- and plate-licking date sauce.RECOMMENDED
This was known as Iskender Fondue Fries during our last review. Having wisely dispensed with that Iskender sauce, they haven’t just stuck with their bowl of warm cheese fondue, but also improved upon it too.
In fact, so good was this gooey cheese sauce that we honestly couldn’t get enough of it. Had with the perfectly adjudged, double cooked, skin-on fries, this had just the right level of piquancy which, even after returning to it 15 minutes later, we still enjoyed! Probably the best cheese fondue sauce we’ve ever had!RECOMMENDED
An exquisite bowl of smooth silkiness that easily rivaled some of our top contenders, including the never-to-be-forgotten experience at Maroush Bakehouse in Earl’s Court and Yasmeen Restaurant & Café in St. Johns Wood.
What made this perhaps even more memorable was not just the crunchy contrast of the sourdough flatbread, but also the topping of the peanut curry pesto, which added that extra dimension of spicy nuttiness with every bite. A hummus and a half this!
This time they’ve opted for a creamy chipotle and sesame dressing for their grilled and crunchy tenderstem broccoli.
The mellow spiciness of this sauce worked just as well to counter the deep smokiness of a plate which, though simple, worked really well as a whole.
On this occasion, not only is their current preferred breed, the Poll Dorset lamb, just as good, but the executioon too, if not better.
This particular one wasn’t just texturally comparable to its predecessor, being soft and delicate, but also managed to deliver, courtesy of some impressive charring, plenty of smoky aroma, which was complimented by the subtle sour notes of pickled onions, a sprinkle of lightly spiced balti mix, and the sweet undertone of what turned out to be a mango chutney madras yoghurt.
Flavour-wise, this was an absolute delight, and one that will long live in the memory.RECOMMENDED REQUEST HALAL WHEN ORDERING
It was obvious from the moment this was put before us that this Free-range Fried Chicken Shish Kebab was gonna quicken the heart rate. Seriously; how many chicken rolls have you had with crispy, light shards of southern fried chicken skin? Exactly!
We’re talking chicken of the highest order, judged with skill and precision, before being diligently arranged amidst a variety of fillings and condiments that all played their respective parts in delivering a superbly balanced kebab.
Prepare yourself for subtle shifts in tones and textures, ranging from the chewiness of the naan to the zingy cabbage slaw and thick chilli mayo, as you make your way through this carefully crafted creation.
- YES/ YES
- CHILD SEATING
- DISABLED FACILITIES
Only three previous restaurants have managed to impress us enough to warrant 5/5: the now defunct Darbaar, Nine7One in Dubai, and #FtLionAwards Restaurant of the Year 2018 Grand Trunk Road. Maison Bab becomes the fourth!
Our previous visit, it ought to be said, flattered to deceive, especially after our impressive experience at Le Bab. Not only did Maison Bab's non-alcoholic range of beverages let them down, but we also didn't much enjoy the choice of their thick naans, which simply detracted from what was otherwise some intriguing flavour combinations. This time, however, we were presented with their sourdough flatbreads, which worked flawlessly with all the kebab rolls had. Furthermore, we simply couldn't fault any of the seven dishes tried, some of which will probably be shortlisted for our end of year awards! More importantly, they redeemed themselves re drinks, with their mixologist smashing it out of Covent Garden and past Seven Dials.
Kudos again for Maison Bab's inclusivity in offering Halal lamb and chicken, that's all stored, prepped and cooked, with rigorous procedures and practices in place, to ensure zero cross-contamination.
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