Le Bab first was launched in January 2016 by founders Stephen Tozer and former Le Gavroche chef Ed Brunet. As a duo since 2014, they laid their roots as a street vendors – I guess you can call this proof of concept before going whole-hog and renting premises. The pair who met at university, which is where they discovered their mutual love for the kebab, teamed up with two former Le Gavroche chefs’ Manuel Caneles Garces (he heads up the kitchen) and also chef de partie Angus Bell. The brief here is simple – a ‘kebab renaissance’ with an emphasis on British seasonality, combined with Middle Eastern flavours, great value wines and artisanal cocktails. It’s based on the 3rd floor of Kingly Court, which is a lively little place full of other restaurants and a crowd full of smiles. As you walk in the room is perfumed with charcoal cooking spice scented meats, and delicious smelling bread. It’s a good sign ahead.
To kick proceedings off, I went for a Chelsea Blonde (£4.5), a zesty and fruity number – an ideal accompaniment to the spice that ensues. It’s chased down with one of their Smokey Sours which are delicious.
Meatlafel – with braised lamb shoulder & beef shin, tzatziki. A clever bit of cooking combining in my mind some perfect cuts of meat that require slow cooking with added pistachio crunch. The spice and seasoning were perfectly judged.
Corn fed chicken shish (£12). Squash hummus, season’s pickles, chicken crackling, Le Bab toum, biber, heritage carrot tops. So this is where the real action begun, a craggy, blistered piece of bread was slathered with the paste like hummus – its palate coating sweetness was a good counter balance to the spiced and caramelised chicken. It was a riot of texture, acidity, sweetness and tingling heat.
Paneer (£11). BBQ paneer, beetroot puree, crispy onion, pickled rainbow shard stem, curry mayo. The crisp bread and paneer was the perfect vehicle to carry all the flavour that this mighty little dish packed.
Crème Brûlée (£4.5). Spice with cardamon, cinnamon and cloves. One of my favourite puddings that comes with some spicy persuasion, it was fun to eat, especially when you can crack into the sugar lacquered crunchy lid.
When did I go? Feb 2017
The damage: Expect to pay £30/35 per head with drinks
The good: Le Bab is clever, fun and proof that kebabs are not just for the alcoholically impaired at 3am – the cooking is solid and accomplished with strong flavours and great ingredients.
The bad: Not a lot to grumble about.
Would I go again? When the craving comes
Address: Top Floor, Kingly Court, Carnaby Street, London W1B 5PW