Lebanese cuisine has blossomed in London in recent years — now it seems diners can't get enough of Middle Eastern classics like hummus, shawarma and that perennial favourite, baklava.
At recently opened St John's Wood restaurant Yasmeen, Lebanese dishes are served up in style. Owner Soulieman Marouf has created a fresh, sophisticated setting, which pays tribute to the restaurant's eponymous flower — a potent symbol in the Middle East. A smattering of yasmeen — or jasmine — motifs pepper the light and airy interior, creating an ambrosial backdrop for fine Lebanese dining.
Then, of course, there's the food itself.
Hors d'oeuvres at Yasmeen include vine leaves stuffed with rice, tomato and parsley; tasty fatayer (baked spinach with onion and pine kernels in pastry parcels); and fresh Arabic salads — spicy veggies tossed in olive oil and lemon juice.
Followed on from this with succulent charcoal grilled meats; juicy moussaka; and moreish kibbeh bissaniyyeh — mince meat, pine nuts and onions coated with a mixture of ground meat and crushed wheat, and served with lashings of yoghurt.
For desert there's gooey baklava; mouhalabieh — a delectable milk pudding — and another Lebanese speciality, kounafa — a scrummy cheese pastry drenched in syrup.
Yasmeen's attentive wait staff will help you choose accompanying drinks — from a fresh raspberry bellini aperitif, to a fruity Lebanese Sauvignon Blanc, and perhaps a sweet mint tea to round everything off.
Is your mouth watering by now? How do you fancy winning a dinner for two at Yasmeen?
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