Abd El Wahab is apparently already pretty well known in the Middle East, from its origins in Beirut to 18 locations including Cairo, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. In fact, a couple of people just down the table from me had actually visited one on their travels. So when something this well-known opens its first branch in London’s Belgravia, there’s bound to be some fanfare.
With it’s elegant decor and natural light, it’s definitely got the ‘I’m actually on holiday in a sunny country’ vibes – and the big green ‘living wall’ is a unique feature you can’t take your eyes off…until the food comes, at least. These are seven dishes, mostly from the meze-style starter options, that you should definitely try if you’re at Abd El Wahab.
Who knew a salad would end up being one of my favourite dishes on the menu? Sampling a selection of cold starters served meze-style, the Fattouch Salad was a real stand-out dish. Fresh and tender greens, peppers and tomatoes worked in perfect contrast with the crunch of thin toasted bread pieces – and the real star of the dish was the pomegranate molasses dressing, giving the dish a fruity, sharp kick.
Stuffed Vine Leaves
Usually when I see something wrapped up in a vine leaf, my reaction is to shrug and move on to something more meaty and less…um. Dark green. Don’t do that with these. Inside, you’ll find a lovely little mixture of rice, tomato, parsley, onion and mint. Some similar dishes I’ve experienced like it have been a bit dry and paper-y, however the perfect amount of lemon juice and olive oil made this a tasty, more-ish meze snack.
This seems like a simple choice, but Abd El Wahab’s hummus is pretty out of this world and possibly the best hummus I’ve had in a very long while. Wonderfully creamy, perfect for dipping fresh bread into. FYI, the restaurant’s breads are fantastic too. Just try not to fill up on it TOO much this way – it’s easily done.
The crunchy filo pastry exterior of these beauties gives way to a soft, cheesy filling. You also have the choice of ordering them grilled or deep fried, depending on your preference. Whichever way you choose, just order them – they’re almost too good to share.
For your main course – what else? I’d actually filled myself up a fair bit on the starters (rookie mistake, every time…), but I couldn’t help myself with the delicious, lightly-spiced and marinated lamb bites on offer. Served with crisp, thin tomato flatbread and just the right amount of salad garnish, this did the job of satisfying the rest of my savoury appetite perfectly.
When the Maamoul Flake arrived at the table, my first thought was that it sort of looks like a cheesecake with candyfloss on top. A big, fluffy cloud of dessert, thanks to a topping of Ghazl el Banet (Lebanese cotton candy). My second thought, after a spoonful, was that this dish is something a bit special. Floral tastes from the rose are strong, but the crunchiness and nutty taste that comes through from the base ground the overall flavours perfectly.
I do love a baklava (or, like…ten), and Abd El Wahb’s Lebanese version is particularly delicious. Less sticky than some of its regional counterparts, but still deliciously sweet, and on the lighter and flakier side of the baklava spectrum. Which means you can eat more of it – obviously a winner.
Abd El Wahab
1-3 Pont St, Belgravia, SW1X 9EJ