Sahara Grill – Hounslow, LondonHALAL STATUS Fully Halal
Driving down Hounslow High Street towards Treaty Shopping Centre, you’ll get to see a whole parade shops and businesses that include a fair share of restaurants and takeaways offering a diverse range of cuisines.
But if there’s one restaurant that manages to stand out from the crowd for its location – ideally situated on the crossroads of Laurance Road and School Road – and appearance, it has to be Sahara Grill.
This entire 92-cover restaurant, with its strikingly attractive design and decor, revolves, quite literally, around a large spiral column made-up of concentric wooden beams, which, much like a giant umbrella, branch out from the inside to create an exterior canopy, which extends around the entire shop front.
No expenses appear to have been spared in creating what is ultimately a visually stunning establishment, with its dark shades and hues of brown combining to create a relaxed ambience, that’s fastidiously maintained and immaculately clean.
In addition, not only is there a cosy prayer area, complete with wudu facilities, located upstairs, but also a newly opened mosque across the road.
Sahara Grill is a long established Halal food business, that was founded in 2004, and now boasts branches in Dubai, Leyton, Whitechapel and Ilford.
Arguably the best drink had was the Mocha Frappe which, while being just as thick and creamy, just managed, when it came to flavour, to pip its Mango counterpart.
Of the two Mocktails (though with a good amount of crushed ice, these were more slushies than mocktails), were preferred the Passion over the Mint Crush, only because the intensity of the former didn’t mellow out as quickly, following a few sips, as it did with the latter.
As for the freshly-made Coconut Crush smoothie, then this was a satisfyingly frothy affair, with the mango coming through gently. And while it was a decent take on the classic pina colada, some may find this, as one Lion did, a little on the sweet side.
These relatively small Sahara Wings were thoroughly based in a tangy-cum-spicy marinade that was, in terms of heat, managable (nowhere nearly as hot as we were warned).
More impressive was the thick and creamy inhouse tartar sauce, which worked perfectly in helping to control the level of heat for anyone who might find these too much.
Despite arriving far closer to medium well than medium, as we’d requested, these Sahara baby Lamb Chops were beautifully moist and succulent.
Arriving in a hot plate and presented on a bed of caramelised onions, these were skilfully charred, with a good coating of masala that just teetered on the right side of hot.
With the sweetness of the softened onions helping to dampen the heat of the spices, this was our dish of the starters. An absolute delight!
When batter coating such plump and juicy shrimps are as light and as crispy as this, you know you’re in for a treat.
And when these golden nuggets are then covered in a creamy sweet and sour sauce, then you can understand why management were excited in showcasing their Sahara Shrimps.
A straightforward Mixed Dip Platter comprising of hummus, mixed olives, a Tzatziki or thick greek style yoghurt, and a portion of pitta bread.
The weakest of the lot was the hummus which, instead of being smooth and velvety, came out firm, claggy and grainy. The thick yoghurt was good, though nothing imaginative, whereas the pitta bread was of a firmer, thicker variety. Unless you are seeking after something healthy and summery, we’d recommend any of the above.
With the most alluring cross-hatched grill marks, the Porterhouse Steak was, quite naturally, more pink and more juicier towards the T-bone itself than the steak’s perimeter.
Being topped with soft, lightly browned onions, it also came with a saucer of picante gravy, which was watery in consistency with only a hint of spice to it, as well as plenty of chips and a pair of cherry tomatoes.
We’d recommend exploring this steak in all its naked glory before anything else. In fact, we found that the addition of the gravy only detracted from the natural umami-taste of the meat by watering things down somewhat.
As such, a creamy side of buttery Mash Potatoes, alongside a Mushroom or Peppercorn Sauce, would be a better option, we’d say.
PLATTERS TO SHARE
This platter combo was made-up of three elements: strips of rump and chicken cooked in picante gravy and a good portion of seasoned rice.
The gravy was considered mellow, with a touch of heat, by one Lion, but flavourful by another. As for the rump, then it had a good chewiness to it without being tough, while the chicken remained tender and soft. Both were mixed with plenty of roughly cut onions and slices of red pepper, which retained a decent bite.
All in all, this was a very good portion for three people, may be four, with an accompanying dish. Although the rice could have been better cooked and not so broken, this was a pleasant platter, albeit a dear one at 40 quid!
The masala marinade paste enveloping this quartered Whole Chicken was enjoyed more by one Lion than the others, with the former describing it as “lovely” and comparing it to “classic Lahori chicken”, while the others found it slightly too pasty in places. Nonetheless, it offered enough spice and heat to keep things interesting right throughout. More importantly, the chicken itself was expertly grilled, of superior quality, and moist, juicy and succulent.
It was presented with a standard salad of cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce, which were drizzled in a light dressing. Given the choice again, we’d go with the seasoned rice in place of the standard chips every time.
We also found that the mushroom sauce neither helped with the appearance of what was otherwise an attractively charred portion of fish, nor add much by way of flavour.
Moreover, the side of buttered crusty bread just seemed out of place! This, for us, was easily the weakest of the mains had; which is a pity, since the salmon deserved better.
We can reveal that a Michelin star consultant was brought in by Sahara Grill to help advise and improve on their menu. And one nugget of advice implemented, was to add more fat to the composition of beef being used in their burgers, which they did with this Mex Border Burger.
And while there’s nothing strange there, what we did find peculiar was the open presentation adopted by the restaurant for its burgers in general. Such an approach would certainly make sense for an elaborate one with more to show off; but in this case, the Mex appeared seemingly straightforward.
What we had here was a standard seeded bun (a thin one at that), with one half carrying a 6oz patty topped with nicely melted cheese, homemade guacamole and salsa; and the other, some lettuce, tomato and sautéed onions.
Taste-wise, this was a surprising one which punched above its weight. The addition of the fat evidently working to make the patty not just a juicy one, but a flavourous too.
Pity about those sorry-looking buns though, which don’t do this Mex Border any favours. Perhaps that’s the reason why they’re presented in such a way.
For one, the two segments of chicken were brilliantly cooked – locking in those juices and turning out bang on the money – while also tasting fantastic, with that Sahara Grill marination we raved about above.
Coupled with the gorgeous charring, which imparted a good amount of smokiness to the burger, this one turned out, to our surprise, to be an enjoyable one.
A really well made coleslaw, turning out fresh and crunchy, and one that we couldn’t help but nibble on throughout the review.
There simply can’t be anything more comforting than a warm, glisteningly moist chocolate pudding immersed in plenty of runny, well made custard, and enough chocolate sauce mixed through to satisfy.RECOMMENDED
But for us, in terms of comfort, nostalgia and utter scrumptiousness, it was this Toffee Apple Crumble with Custard that took us back to bygone days.
Lovely pieces of crumbly apple goodness encompassed by plenty of beautifully made custard with toffee sauce running through it.
This Chocolate Brownie with Ice Cream didn’t even come close to the above. The former could have been so much more gooier in places than it was and the latter far less icy.
- NO/ NO
- DISABLED FACILITIES
- CHILD SEATING
- UBER EATS
- JUST EAT
As a grill house, they offer an extenstive menu, with dishes that are presented straightforwardly. We can't help but wonder, however, how much better these could be if a small fraction of the creativity put into the aesthetical side of things was put into elevating and refining some, especially the mains and especially to justify the prices of a few.
There was no faulting their service though. Front of house was regimented, being as welcoming and as accommodating as any restaurant we've been to.
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