Meze, if done well, are among my favourite foods for an uncomplicated girls’ night out. Just order a few plates to share with some pita bread and a bottle of wine and chat the night away, and this usually without breaking the bank.
The Lebanese restaurant Hiba about 5 minutes walk from London Bridge down Borough High Street doesn’t look like much from the outside. Sharing a common front with Costa Coffee, which in my opinion does really crap coffee and I avoid like the plague, one might think it’s just some basic take away. You couldn’t be more wrong.
Upon entering it becomes clear that Hiba is a comfortable and inviting restaurant with modern interior and dim lighting. Also promising is the fact that a lot of the patrons appear to be Middle Eastern ranging from young couples on their first date to groups of elderly men. I always find it highly encouraging when a restaurant is frequented by nationals of the respective cuisine, as I guess they should know what the food is supposed to taste like…
I ate at Hiba twice in a short period of time and enjoyed both visits. This is a description of my second visit which was pretty similar to the first NB: Both times, we only had meze and haven’t tried any of Hiba’s main dishes which I therefore can’t judge.
The complementary pickles that arrived as soon as we were seated were a real winner: lovely aromatic olives inermixed with preserved lemons were a promise of things to come.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Grilled Halloumi Cheese (5.50). The halloumi was light, salty and squeaky (if you have eaten halloumi before you know what I mean with squeaky, otherwise go and find out ) and the bbq taste nicely complemented its clean flavour. Highly addictive.
Slightly less successful was the Tabbouleh (4.95). I can’t complain about the freshness of the ingredients or the amount of the flavoursome parsley, but they just went a bit overboard with the lemon juice and it ended up being too sour. Apart from this not a bad dish at all.
The only meat dish we tried were the Kibbeh Shameyieh (5.50) – deep-fried lamb meatballs. I am admittedly not a big fan of fried food in general but these meatballs were lovely. Light and not the least bit greasy I particularly enjoyed their cinnamon taste.
The waiters were not as faultless as the food. A couple of times they cleared plates away that we didn’t consider finished. And, unforgivably, they forgot to bring the Baba Ganoush we had ordered. I love the smoky taste of this aubergine puree and I was very much looking forward to it. Of course when I realised that they had forgotten I was already full and couldnt’ be bothered to order it again.
They consoled me a bit with the complementary dessert: The 3 pieces of very similar looking and very similar tasting, incredibly sweet Lebanese sweets almost made me forget my prior disappointment. I wouldn’t call them exactly tasty but they have something to them so that you just can’t stop eating even though you know every bite brings you closer to type II diabetes.
- Food: 7/10
- Service: 5/10
- Ambiance: 7/10
- Value for Money: 8/10
- Chances of returning: 30%
- Verdict: neighborhood Lebanese everyone would be happy to have in their neighborhood.