Review – Yasmeen Restaurant (Lebanese), St John’s Wood, London
Lately I have been really getting into middle eastern foods so an opportunity to check out Yasmeen in St John’s Wood was always going to be on the cards. The premises have undergone a big refurbishment under the current owners and suffice to say, they have presented with a beautiful setting both indoors and out.
The menu is quite extensive with a big choice to suit all palates. Also it is easy to follow if you are new to Lebanese foods and not sure what to try. We started off with a range of dishes for dipping and mostly eating with our hands. I love grazing this way although we did need to keep room for the rest of our lunch. We had hummus (why are there so many ways to spell that word?), moutabel ( a smoked aubergine dip), mixed salad and grilled halloumi to name a few. They were all very good and so fresh. To be honest I would have been happy just to spend a few hours munching my way through all the starters with a very respectable bottle of the Lebanese wine we tried.
Moving on to the mains we took the chef’s recommendations and had the seabass and the chicken shish. I must point out here that if you have been following my blog you will know that I am not a fan of lamb. There are quite a few lamb and mixed meat dishes on the menu but chef did a great job accommodating my personal tastes for which I am very grateful. I am told by other foodie friends who have been here before though that the lamb is outstanding. The presentation of the main dishes is more traditional than fine dining but that didn’t take away from the flavours. They were well spiced, flavourful and the portion sizes were generous. The inclusion of fries on the menu was intriguing to me. Are they traditional in Lebanon or added on to accommodate a western palate?
By now we were pretty full but as ever we moved onwards and upwards in our quest to give you the full menu experience. In any country found around the Mediterranean Sea you will find an interpretation for that sweet nutty pastry commonly known as baklava. What I liked about the Yasmeen baklava was that the nuts were still recognisable as nuts and not the powdery, ground version that can be found elsewhere. It was also not too sickly sweet. We tried the pistachio tart too which whilst nice was not really my cup of tea but that’s personal preference. What WAS my cup of tea though was the fresh mint tea I had along with dessert. It was so refreshing I had two pots of it, with the second one taken out on the terrace to enjoy in the late afternoon sun. Bliss!
Our experience at Yasmeen was great. We arrived hungry and left very satiated although a walk was probably a good idea right now to help digest all that lovely food and wine. The restaurant itself is very well appointed and beautifully decorated. Staff were friendly and as I said above, accommodating to my needs. The menu is reasonably priced especially for this part of London. Just a note if you are vegetarian, there are only a couple of choices in the mains for you although the majority of starters are veggie. If I were you I would choose a selection of the starters to munch your way through, they were our favourite part anyway.