Hey, Foodwala’s… This week the foodwala family were in deepest darkest Belgravia, and it felt like I had been transported to downtown Dubai or Doha or Riyadh even, it was wall to wall with affluent Gulf Arabs enjoying their summer vacation in one of the greatest cities in the world.
This reminded me of the John Cleese satirical comedy sketch where a tall aristocratic looking John Cleese is standing next to a shorter Ronnie Barker who represents the middle classes and a short fat Ronnie Corbett who represented the working classes, the scetch goes when John Cleese says he looks down on the Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett characters and in turn Ronnie Barker’s character says he looks up to John Cleese character but looks down at the Ronnie Corbett character thus illustrating the British class system to an amusing effect.
This amusing sketch actually reminded me of the Arabs in London, the Affluent aristocratic petropound Gulf Arabs congregate in Knightsbridge and Belgravia, they look down on their Levantine brethren from Jordon, Egypt and Lebanon who hang out around Edgware Road in Marylebone and lastly the poor African Arabs who congregate areas like Acton.
And never the twain shall meet.
However, they have a single unifying thing….their amazing food
The Rarri and Bakree Foodwalee’s where feeling right at home with the Gulf Arabs and after enjoying some retail Therapy at Harrods and Sloane Street they proclaimed that they were hungry and would only settle for the best Lebanese restaurant in London… Ishbilia
We arrived at the restaurant and it was packed to the gunnels by elegantly dressed Gulf Arabs, the gents in their Loro Piana and Brioni streetwear and the perfectly coiffured ladies in their Chanel and Ellie Saab and all with their obligatory Hermes Birkins.
We were seated in a prime table so we could witness the air kissing and the up and down glance perfected by entitled ladies everywhere.
We were greeted by the dashing and handsome Mohammed (who reminded us of Mokee Foodwala) who would look after us, he coincidently used to study in Glasgow and recognised our accents!
He made us feel right at home.
We asked Mohammed to organise a selection of Mezze, so first up we received a deliciously crunchy Fatoush salad sprinkled with sumac and pomegranate dressing, the Hummous was perfectly creamy yet tangy…delicious.
The homemade Beef Sojouk sausages were next up, they were sauteed in garlic and olive oil and the deep spicy beef flavour was beautifully accentuated with the olive roasted garlic.
The Kibbehwas delicately spiced mince with pine nuts, it requires a deft hand, otherwise, it becomes stodgy and tasteless, the Ishbiliah Mezze chef possesses the kid-gloved deft hand
The Sambourek were delicious bite-sized Lebanese pizza, light and fluffy with a cheesy crust, again delicious
The excellent Mezze was finished off with some fresh fruit platter and a plate of homemade baklava.
The hospitality provided by Mohammed was amazing, his knowledge of what he was serving was second to none and the service was attentive without being intrusive, this is the essence of the art of service