London’s Mayfair is practically synonymous with fine-dining, you can barely move for danger of falling over the discreet entrance of high-end establishments like Angela Hartnett’s Murano, Nobu, Marani etc with a few wealthy embassies thrown in for good measure. So when asked to review Mamounia Lounge, nestled smack in the middle of Mayfair, it was a no-brainer of a decision to hobnob with the glamorous elite.
The vibe in Mamounia Lounge is quite different to the more classic high-end restaurants in Mayfair, the international set already in place here appear to be fuelling up before a big night ahead, perhaps at the Shisha tables set out in front or drinking cocktails at the opulent bar.
The décor is set at smouldering Arabian nights; it’s all dark woods, copper decorations and deep reds and purples, lighting set to very dim, just enough to make out groups of friends and some very beautiful looking cocktails.
The food is Moroccan and Lebanese – set out in a bewilderingly long menu that takes us a while to navigate – I’m very taken by the long list of mezze dishes, but my friend is equally taken with the thought of a slow cooked rich meaty Tagine, to complement the smooth red that is disappearing at an alarming rate on a Tuesday evening.
In the end, we opt for it all! We kick off with a selection of mezze – smoky, mouth-watering Moutabel, fresh and light Mango salad, crispy shelled Falafel and nutty garlicky Mohammara, all mopped up with a side of bread. It’s very easy to tell which are our favourites are – these are the ones we keep spooning more helpings on our plate, while still halfway through a mouthful. The Moutabel is silky and smooth and at one point I actually stop eating bread and just start scooping it up with a spoon. The Mango salad is fresh and delicate and I’m actually disappointed when we don’t manage to finish it. The Mohammara is a new dish for me and it’s a little too rich for a starter but it’s so garlicky and spicy that I wish I had an ice cold glass of sauvignon blanc to wash it all down with. The Falafels are the only item that doesn’t dance off the plate – they’re perfectly acceptable but just don’t have the wow factor of the other dishes.
We linger over the mezze for so long, continually nibbling at elements that we’re almost quite reluctant to have them take away what we couldn’t manage, but when my grilled tiger prawns arrive on the table, I’m quite glad they did! These are meaty and juicy and with a hint of garlic, they’re just the right portion size considering how much we’ve already put away. The lamb tagine is rich and tender, a little too rich for me, but its being enthusiastically forked up my friend along with a side of buttery couscous so there’s no complaints there.
Although you wouldn’t think we could possibly fit any more in, I’m swayed by the waiter’s description of the chocolate fondant as he comes over to try and persuade us to have dessert – I’m so easily talked into things that I am a marketers dream and I’m soon talked into not only the chocolate fondant but a platter of fresh berries to complement the chocolate and contribute to my five-a-day. The berries are a little too cold and should have been taken out of the fridge a little early but the chocolate fondant lived up to the hype – and with me, praise can go no higher.
As we head out the door with the clock inching towards 11, the staff are surprised to see that we’re not staying on for music & dancing, but this is Tuesday night and already well past my bedtime. Will I come back? Yes, but I’ll bring a group of friends, get ordering those cocktails and party Mayfair style till dawn.
Disclosure: This post first appeared on Flush Magazine, you can read the article here. I was a guest of Flush Magazine for the purposes of reviewing Mamounia Lounge. All opinions, as ever, are my own.