Lazeez Tapas

The word ‘Lazeez’ means tasty in three languages; Arabic, Farsi and Urdu, so when invited to review Lazeez Tapas situated but a stone’s throw away from London’s Selfridges, it was with thoughts of a Friday night feast.  Lazeez is easy to spot, decked out in orange and blue with tables of friends enjoying Shisha and nibbles outside under the awning.

The interior is small and sparsely furnished with a curious lack of tables, we later realise that they’re taking all the tables outside to accommodate those wishing to engage in Shisha but it doesn’t really help with the atmosphere inside.  Open windows are wafting in smoke from outside and all in all, I appear to be standing in an upmarket Kebab shop.

And true indeed, Chicken & Lamb Shawarmas feature heavily on the menu, apparently their most popular menu item for hungry workers to take away on their lunch break.  Sidestepping these, we plump for a selection of hot and cold mezze and a Main to share.   Our first choice of main, the grilled Tiger Prawns are unavailable, which is disappointing and so we choose the Mixed Grill with rice instead, accompanied by Baked Halloumi, Moutabel, Arayes and Hummus with Lamb.  And since we’re kicking off the weekend, we opt for a Watermelon cocktail to accompany our feasting.

The cocktail is delicious, well balanced and refreshing and things are starting to look up.   Our food starts to stream in and is a little bit more of a mixed bag.    The baked halloumi is moist, succulent and of high quality and a generous portion so there’s more than enough to go round for seconds!  The Moutabel similarly is excellent, smooth and flavoursome and easily mopped up with long strips of pitta bread.  The Hummus lets the party down somewhat, it’s a bit grainy as if the chickpea to olive oil ratio hasn’t been worked out well and the lamb nestled in the middle is fatty and overdone.  Lamb shouldn’t really be served crispy and these are off-cuts I’m sure.

Arayes are new to me, they’re essentially deep fried meat-filled flaky pastries, or meat filled parathas if you’re of an Indian persuasion, these are crispy but could use a bit more in the flavour department and perhaps a hint of spice would work well.  We’re filling up pretty fast so I’m glad we only opted for one main between us – this is a mixed grill of chicken and lamb, served with rice and red onion.  They bring round a pot of homemade chilli sauce which is fantastic; it’s retained all the flavours of a chilli without the heat although I would have preferred a version that also has the spicy kick to it, and something quite unusual for the lamb, pomegranate molasses that bring out an interesting sour sweet tang to the grilled lamb.

We finish our meal off with a waffle topped with strawberries and chocolate ice cream and I wish we hadn’t.  The waffle has come straight from the freezer to microwave and the middle is still cold and the streetside vendors of Oxford Street do a far better job at the waffle than this place.  More fitting an ending is the Moroccan mint tea that comes in a gleaming silver teapot, bringing back memories of taking tea in the Riad’s in Marrakech.

We head out into the night and make straight across the road to Selfridges for some light retail therapy, agreeing on one thing, this place is best suited to two groups, the lunchtime crowd looking for a Shawarma fix or the late crowd, happy to indulge in some Shisha and enjoy a couple of snacks outside in warmer weather. Diners like us, expecting a full scale restaurant, risk disappointment as expectations are not in line with reality.

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 Lazeez Lebanese tapas.  All opinions, as ever, are my own.

Lazeez can be found at 29 Duke Street, W1U 1LH, directly opposite Selfridges.

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