RESTAURANT REVIEW: Mamounia Lounge
It’s been a couple of months since I last took a stroll through Mayfair, largely because I’ve been lured away by the quirks (and offer of delicious cocktails) on the east side of London. But although I love Shoreditch, seeing all the expensive cars, boutique hotels, and smell of burning money in central London’s most extravagant district gives me a sense of exuberance that I simply can’t get anywhere else in the UK.
And that brings me to my latest foodie night out; Curzon Street’s Mamounia Lounge. The Middle Eastern restaurant opened last September after the success of the first Mamounia Lounge in the equally affluent Knightsbridge. As I walk up, it’s difficult to miss the place; Shisha pipes, big fluorescent lighting and two muscle bound doormen guarding the entrance. The interior isn’t what you’d call understated either, with a smoky ultra violet tinted atmosphere, mirrored walls, and there are even belly dancers at the weekends. Despite the lavish surrounds, the atmosphere is surprisingly casual, and I didn’t feel out of place in a pair of smart trainers and fitted t-shirt.
The menu is heavily influenced by Moroccan and Lebanese cuisine with plenty of grilled meat, breads, and fresh salad, encouraging guests to share and use their hands. I’m not one to break from cultural traditions, and ordered so much there was hardly any room on the table. The spread of Mezze was mighty impressive; the moutabel (aubergine and tahini dip) with fresh pitta was the pick of the cold dishes; however the sambousek (halloumi cheese pastry) was scrumptious if you prefer a warm starter.
The mains were an equally impressive affair with an assortment of lamb dishes, spicy rice, and gravy. The slow roasted lamb shoulder was excellent; marinated for 48hrs and cooked for 8 more made it rich in flavour and tender. For something a bit spicier, the kafta tagine lamb meatballs worked well with the seasoned rice, and there is even a poached egg in the middle for good measure!
After some much needed time to make stomach space, we are recommended to try the chocolate fondant that’s much lauded by the waiting staff. Although the gooey, chocolaty dish was appealing, it was let down by badly freezer burnt ice cream and frozen strawberries. A disappointing finish, but didn’t let that overshadow an otherwise very enjoyable evening. Mamounia Lounge doesn’t serve the most mind blowing Middle Eastern cuisine I’ve visited, nor is it the most reasonably priced at around £40 per head; but with the entertainment, shisha, and cocktails available, offers a well-rounded party experience.
Mamounia Lounge, 37a Curzon Street, Mayfair, London, W1J 7TX