Kenza meaning treasure in ‘Arabic’ has been around for a while now, 6th of September 2007 was when owner Tony Kitous first opened the cellar doors hidden away in a little passage way in Devonshire Square. The entrance is adorned with North African style double doors, so authentic you may believe you’re walking into Marrakech. You can’t helped but to be charmed when a waft on incense hits you as you walk down the spiral stairs in the lounge. The brief? You guess it – Lebanese and North African cuisine to with belly dancers a go go. Tony also owns Comptoir Libanais with 12 restaurants dotted around London including one in Gatwick.
The bar area is airy, the lounge feel prevalent as are hypnotic lounge beats playing in the background making it feel unrestrained.
Let’s be honest there selection of spirits isn’t the best, a tad high street some may argue with that bottle of Malibu beaming at you! Drinks snobs.
Chivas Regal and ginger? (£8.95) Yes please!
It’s those belly dancers I told you about. Now do you believe me?
This should give you a sense of what it’s like in the dining area – dark hued, carved wood and stunning lamps.
We opted for Cote Du Rhone – Haut de Brun (Alain Jaume) £35.95 – medium bodied, very fruity and crisp. Not a bad drop at all to go with the spicy food.
£32.95 per person (minimum 2 guests)
Tabbouleh (v) Chopped parsley, mint, onions & tomatoes, mixed with cracked wheat, lemon juice & olive oil. It tastes exactly like how it should, perfectly balanced with the right amount of lemon juice. It’s hard to get wrong.
Puffed pillows of flat bread, thin and sweet which made an ideal vehicle for scooping.
Hummos – Chickpea purée, tahini, garlic & lemon juice. Creamy and smooth as you’d expect but lacked a bit of flavour. Perhaps some extra garlic and lemon juice would have given it that extra edge.
Baba ghannouj – Smoked aubergine purée, tahini, garlic & lemon juice. This was rich, creamy and smoky, exactly how it should be delicious & kept dipping that bread into it!
Koussa bil tahini – Courgette purée, tahini, mint, lemon juice, garlic & yoghurt.
Batata harra (v) Spicy sautéed potatoes with red pepper, fresh coriander, garlic & chilli. If you’re going to re-heat something then do it properly not luke-warm! Notwithstanding some good flavour here.
Sambousek d’jej – Pastry filled with chicken, caramelised, onions, pomegranate molasses & sumac. Crisp outer shell, slightly tart yet savoury centre. Two bites of mighty flavour.
Kibbé lahmé N – Deep fried lamb & cracked wheat parcels, filled with onions, minced lamb & pine nuts. These were treat to eat too, mince meat, bold flavours, spicy persuasion – happy days.
Farowj meshwi – Marinated charcoal-grilled baby chicken, served with a Lebanese salad and organic vermicelli rice, harissa & garlic sauces. That salad was insipid, just a mere rumour on the plate as were the vermicelli rice which was dry and didn’t really have a mandate in my opinion. The real star on the plate was that tender chicken. You could really taste the marinade that evidently accomplished itself into that smokey meat. It didn’t need that garlic sauce in my opinion.
DESSERTS to share
Sniwat fawakih (v) Fresh fruit platter with orange blossom water. It’s just a bowl of on- o- you- five-a-day at the end of the day but that blossom water complemented the fruit and acted as the perfect palate cleanser.
Shay bil halawiyat – Mint tea, served with a selection of Arabic sweets, baklawa and Turkish delight. Buttery rich, nutty, crispy and sweet that’s all you need in baklawa.
There she goes again – the music is pumped up at this point to accentuate the performance and to distract you. In a good way of course!
When did I go? March 2016
The damage: Expect to pay £50-60 with set meal and drinks per head.
The good: It’s a charming little place with Middle Eastern refinement, embellished with great decor and comes with promising service. The food itself though was just ok but not memorable. You can tell is geared towards large groups, quick turnaround service – the heavily pre-prepared food shows this. But overall my experience was pleasant.
The bad: There were some rough edges for sure and the hot food was largely luke-warm. It’s costly for what it is and I expected something that matched the opulent surroundings. You can have a lot more bang for your buck elsewhere.
10 Devonshire Square
London EC2M 4YP
T: 020 7929 5533
Closest tube: Liverpool St
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