This place definitely lives up to all its reviews. Having recently come back from Turkey where we adored the food (especially in the smaller kebab shops), El Grumpo and I went to Yalla Yalla last night to try some Lebanese style mezzes.
Its a small, warm, intimate restaurant with about 10 tables, nice lighting and a great Middle eastern/housey sountrack. Tables are far enough apart that you can chat openly and close enough together that there’s a friendly, community vibe. I liked how we got nice olives and pickles straight away and that they had a fantastic Lebanese wine list (apparently Lebanese wine is very good, the heat making it taste about 10 years older than it really is – thanks El Grumpo!). We picked the Cave Kouroum Petit Noir which had won various medals including the Silver Award at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles 2007. Anyway, it was bloody nice.
The menu is great – good value mezze at around £4 each including favourites like Hommos, Baba Ghannouj, Halloumi with tomato, olives and fresh mint, Tabboule and falafel. I also spotted some really interesting ones that I’d like to go back and try – like sauteed chicken liver with garlic and pomegranate molases and deep fried tiger prawns, calamar and white bait with spring onions, crispu aubergine and chilli minted greek yoghurt. Mains start at around £7 and include lamb skewers, spicy minced lamb, slow cooked lamb shoulder and moussaka.
We didn’t really know where to start, and we were really hungry (Yalla Yalla is super busy and so we could only get a table at 9.30pm) so we ordered the Christmas Feast. It cost £26 each but to be honest we could have invited 2 friends who would have been full up too. We started with vine leaves, humous, tahini, a sort of shepherd’s salad with pomegranate, pitta, grey mullet and lamb kofta. They were all super tasty and delicately spiced and definitely up there with the best we ate in Turkey.
The second course was a GIANT shoulder of lamb served in a huge tajine pot filled with cous cous, dates and onions. It really could have fed a family of four, so when they brought it they told us we could always get a take away… It was beautiful – really tender meat with the kick of the dates and spice of the cous cous. We ate and ate but could only eat about half. We took home the rest of the lamb and the pudding, pretty looking baklava, with us to eat at the weekend. We noted other couples doing the same.
The service was incredibly friendly and helpful, not obtrusive. And I LOVED how service wasn’t included in the bill (how many restaurants in London still let you tip with discretion?). The final bill was about £35 each for a HUGE meal that we couldn’t even finish, a lovely bottle of wine, and enough food for another meal. Definitely lives up to the hype – just make sure you book in advance!