Tucking into a deliciously fresh manousheh I found myself staring at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, directly opposite, and thinking what a great position this is for a pre or post-theatre meal.
Founded by brothers Samer and Basam Chamoun in Beirut two years ago, The Lebanese Bakery quickly became one of the hottest tickets in town. Particularly surprising to me, since it delivers the kind of traditional Lebanese dishes most Beiruties would have grown up with, so why stand in a line waiting to eat food you can get at home. Then again I suppose, there are fish and chip shops in London doing a roaring trade to locals, so why on earth not.
Flushed with success, the brothers decided to open a branch in London, and truthfully, a Covent Garden location was a genius move.
This type of Lebanese cuisine is not the kind where you sit for hours with a multitude of dips and kebabs smoking shisha and playing with your mobile phone as they do down the Edgware Road. This is the eat and go variety; plenty of mouajjanet, hot filled bite-sized pastries, and freshly-baked flat breads (manousheh) with delicious toppings imported directly from Levantine farmers.
Sitting down I enjoy a procession of what can only be described as perfect Lebanese comfort food.
First, a trio of piping hot mouajjanet (£1.50 each) one filled with sirene cheese and thyme flower, another with halva and pistachio and the last with spinach, onion and sumac. Some home-made hummus too (£4) just for the hell of it.
Then, straight out of the traditional brick oven, the manousheh main event. Akkawi is like a flat pie filled with melted cheese (£5.95), then a spicy muhahammara & labneh topped with roasted red peppers, walnuts, pomegranate molasses and goat yoghurt (£6.50.
Next came my personal favourite, the signature Ras Asfour; a gem of a dish. Diced beef sirloin, pomegranate seeds, wild rocket and toasted pine nuts (£9.75).
For those of you with sweet teeth, you might care for the sweet manousheh everything from carob molasses, tahini and caramelised almonds to halva, strawberries and green pistachios (all at £5.25)
There is a range of manousheh to suit all tastes and a choice of white, whole wheat or multi-grain doughs. There’s even a Lebanese version of an all-day breakfast (from £6) with eggs baked on the bread as it cooks in the oven.
So next time you go out to Covent Garden for a theatre visit, drop into the Bakery. You might be disappointed with the show, but at least you’ll have some fine Lebanese comfort food to look forward to.
Tell me more about The Lebanese Bakery, Covent Garden
The Lebanese Bakery, Covent Garden Drury House, Russell St,
London WC2B 5HA
T: +44 (0) 203 8839033