The Halal: All the meat at Mandaloun is halal. They do not serve any pork. Alcohol is sold within the premises.
The Place: Mandaloun is located in the outdoor restaurant area of Westfield (Shepherd’s Bush). It is restauranteur Zack Barakat and designer Lee Broom’s second venture together. The decor certainly doesn’t disappoint! Bright lights reminiscent of a Hollywood dressing room flash ‘Mandaloun’ in arabic. Contrasting to the sleek interior, the ambience in the outdoor sheesha terrace is pretty chilled.
The Food: Accustomed to the usual Lebanese affair, we started by ordered a mixed ‘Absolute Mezze’. This gave us a selection of 6 starters: hommous, mouttabel, falafel, kibbeh and lamb and cheese sambousek. Every aspect of the mezze was absolutely delicious! The mouttabel was fresh and the pomegranate seeds and a twist of lemon really enhanced these summer flavours. The hommous was creamy and smooth. The falafel was warm and fluffy. The kibbeh was well-seasoned and had an earthiness from the nuts inside. And finally the sambousek were rich with soft crumbly pastry!
Expectations were high after the starters got off to such an impressive start! We ordered the Shish Tawouk and the Lamb couscous served with a vegetable bouillon. It saddens me that the main courses were a bit of a disaster. The shish tawouk (which is a staple and done so well at many Middle-Eastern restaurants) was extremely dry and overcooked. The flavour of the marinade was also lacking so I ended up having to slop on a lot of garlic sauce to compensate!
The lamb with couscous had promised to deliver Moroccan flavours but it was quite bland. The bouillon wasn’t aromatic and the couscous was more al dente than it should have been. We were also disappointed by the lack of lamb on the plate!
The Price: Around £35 for a shared starter, main and sheesha per person.
The Verdict: Well I would recommend Mandaloun for snacks as a break from the shops. However, London is full of excellent Lebanese restaurants for every budget. This place is trying to be quite upmarket but the quality of the food just does not deliver. Sorry!