Beirut Express in the middle of buzzing and ethnic Edgware Road is a member of the Â Lebanese restaurantÂ dynastyÂ Maroush. Â There are several “Maroush”, a couple of Beirut Expresses, some Ranoush Juices and more. Â My date was happy to assure me, that this particular Beirut ExpressÂ in Edgware Road is the best of the whole bunch, and among the best budget Lebanese eateries in London. Â After having eaten there I have little doubt that he is right.
Beirut ExpressÂ is not going to win any design awards and would not be my top choice for a romantic dinner. Â It is functional with tiled, easy to clean floor and steel furniture. Â The centrepiece of the room is a big rotating shwarma grill surrounded by a counter. Â We sat at the counter, close to the grill and it was rather cosily hot there. Â Service was brusque and only brought my tab water after asking 10 times when we were about to leave.
Like a lot of Lebanese restaurants and most restaurants on Edgware Road no alcohol is served. Â A welcome break for my poor liver some might say and abstinence did not feel so bad with theÂ deliciouslyÂ fresh, squeezed to order fruit juices (2.5 each). Â I had the green melon one which tasted of summer and tropical beaches.
The food is simple and unassuming but very tasty and as a result theÂ clientÃ¨leÂ comprised not of only passing tourists and foodies, but also of Lebanese people living in the area. Â We ordered a very generousÂ Mixed Starters platter (12) to share which was served with pickles and pita bread. Â I won’t talk about the presentation, but flavours were abundant and I could not stop eating until I was ready to burst. Â There were a pair of fluffy, light and non-greasyÂ falafel, some wine leaves filled with a delicious mixture of rice, parsley, mint and onions, and morish cold aubergines tasting faintly of cinnamon roasted with tomatoes, chick peas and onions. Â TheÂ hommosÂ was creamy and smooth, the aubergine-basedÂ baba ghanoujÂ flavourful with just the right amount of smokiness and theÂ tabboulehÂ was fresh and tangy. Â I could not fault any of the elements of this meze platter.
Halloum Meshwi (6.5), fried halloumi cheese served just with a squeeze of lemon, was salty and squeaky and very good. Â The only underwhelming dish was theÂ Spicy Lebanese Salad (5) with consisted mainly of soggy lettuce and was far too sour.
With theÂ Mixed Grills (13) consisting of a chicken skewers, a lamb skewer and minced lamb, we had plenty of food. Â The meat was fresh and good, eaten together with the very spicy chilli and yoghurt sauce as well as pita bread, but overall, what really stood out, were the mezze. Â In fact while writing this review I have developed a sudden urge to go back to Beirut Express immediately for more baba ghanouj, hommos and wine leaves. Â That’s where this write-up comes to an abrupt halt, as I shall hurry for my mezze fix. Â Bye for now.
- Food: 7.5/10
- Service: 4/10
- Ambiance: 5/10
- Value for Money: 7/10
- Verdict: Low key and unpretentious LebaneseÂ deliciousness.