By Tim Epps
Amidst an unending stream of highly polished, expensive cars we sat in the marvellous evening warmth in Lazeez Tapas on Duke Street. Our energetic, ebullient and charming host, Emilio, the owner told us that if the middle-eastern protagonists of the various conflicts sat down together and tasted his simple, appealing food there would be no war. Meanwhile we sipped our Softails: a virgin Mojito, with all the flavour of a mojito without the rum, and a refreshing strawberry and mango.
The food was indeed simple, with a multitude of small and very tasty dishes arriving to completely fill our table. Despite the simplicity and modest cost, it was of high quality; a delight of different tastes.
All the food is prepared fresh each morning. You could eat vegan, certainly vegetarian, but after our first dishes of hummus, aubergine with chickpeas, tomato sauce, garlic and onion and a spicy salad with a unique flavour, (apparently sumac, a tangy lemony spice), we opted for the mixed charcoal grill and crisp coated meatballs, followed by grilled halloumi and rocket. The tender meat was of a high standard; marinated lamb, minced lamb and marinated chicken, all with distinctly different flavours. I had a glass of rich red from the Bekaa Valley, celebrated for its wines.
We admired the dessert menu, but the tapas menu was filling enough. Instead my companion went for the mint tea and I went for the Arabic coffee. Beautifully presented, the beans are roasted every day over sand (to simulate hot desert preparation, in W1!) and the rich, dense, sweet taste was a revelation.
Surrounded by happy, chatting diners, we strolled from the restaurant into the warm twilight with a feeling of wellbeing. Emilio’s formula for peace had certainly worked for us.
Perhaps the concept should be spread further immediately?
29 Duke Street, W1U 1LF
020 7935 2755 Open 24/7