The Lebanese Bakery in London.
If I told you that there was a dish that tasted like pizza only better – a healthy, delicious snack that is substantial enough to turn into a meal that comes with toppings like Taouk spiced rotisserie chicken or lamb and beef mince with onion and pomegranate molasses would you be curious? Manakeesh (there are various spellings around and the singular is Man’ousheh) are flatbreads with a variety of toppings both sweet and savoury, typically eaten for breakfast in Lebanon. Beirut based The Lebanese Bakery has taken things further and offers a menu of delicious toppings at their outlets – Beirut of course, but also in Cairo, Bahrain and since 2016 in London, Covent Garden.
Their most recent opening in London is in the luxurious setting of Harrods Department Store, tucked away on the fourth floor. The kind of secret you want to keep for yourself but know you need to share because it’s just such a good place to know about when you need a break from retail therapy!
We made our way through the maze of tempting goodies to the relative calm of the Lebanese Bakery. It’s compact and tucked away in a quiet part of the store so a great place to meet friends for food and a chat. It’s not licenced, but there are some excellent soft drinks and fresh juices and I loved my minted homemade lemonade.
The eateries were created by brothers Samer and Bassam Chamoun from Beirut. Samer is an architect who has worked with Saha Hadid while Bassam is a real estate developer who specialises in the development of local and regional restaurants.
So, perhaps the comfortable, chic and welcoming design should be expected, while the open kitchen with traditional Arabic oven is essential for this kind of simple but authentic food. The food is all about Lebanon.
I should have remembered from eating at other Lebanese restaurants that you will never be allowed to leave hungry from this kind of place. I arrived starving and wanted to nibble on something while we waited for our Manakeesh to be prepared. But instead of olives, we were brought a selection of the hot appetizers – Fatayer, Chicken Musakhan, Meat Kebbeh and Pumpkin Kibbeh. All delicious, I could easily have just ordered a salad and relaxed.
Across the restaurant, we spotted a table with a kind of cheese-filled oozing flatbread. Akkawi Man’ousheh was definitely a good way to start our Manakeesh feast(!) and it’s on my list for when I go back. It may be simple, but that combination of freshly baked flatbread dough and melting cheese is just fantastic.
We thought we’d ordered a sensible amount of food – but truth be told, two more Manakeesh together with a selection of savoury dishes from the cold appetizer section of the menu was far too much for us. But, I wanted to try everything!
The first of the Harrods specials, the Chicken Man’ousheh was a drool-worthy mixture of spicy, tender chicken, red cabbage, crisp lettuce, nigella seeds and minted yoghurt.
Meanwhile, alongside the Man’ousheh, we were enjoying the silky smooth hummus, a classic mix of chickpea puree, tahini, lemon and olive oil.
My favourite was a deliciously smoky baba ghanouj (charred aubergine with tahini, pomegranate, cucumber, tomatoes, green peppers, parsley and mint) while my companion raved about the muhammara – a roasted red pepper dip with walnuts and pomegranate molasses and chilli past topped with charred cauliflower.
Our next Man’ousheh was the Beef Shawarma which is Baharat spiced beef with cherry tomato confit, onion, radish, pickles, parsley and tahini vinaigrette. You can order extra bone marrow for this too if you want, but, honestly, I thought it was perfect just as it was. The combination of pickled vegetables and tender fine slices of spiced beef was utterly delicious and the light flatbread with crisp base and soft fluffy centre a great foil for the explosion of flavours.
At this point, I was admitting defeat. The Lebanese Bakery is always happy to pack up anything you can’t eat so you can take it home and that’s just what they did for us. Since it’s all cooked fresh to order, it travels very well. It didn’t take much to persuade us to try one of the sweet Manakeesh though neither of us could quite face the Nutella one. Instead, we ordered Halawa, which is topped with an halva paste, then sprinkled with fresh seasonal fruit. Excellent coffee made a great complement for the sweet, fragrant dish.
I loved the food at the Lebanese Bakery. Everything was beautifully fresh, cooked to order and delicious. All meat is free-range halal and cheeses are imported from the Levant. The restaurant was well set up with socially distanced tables and perspex screens and all staff were masked. So, despite being indoors we felt safe and comfortable. That said, if you prefer to stay at home, The Lebanese Bakery offers home delivery and takeaway service which we reviewed earlier this year when lockdown was in full swing. Personally, though, I’m happy to be able to get out and about so I really appreciate venues that make a serious effort to keep everyone safe.
4th floor, Harrods,
87-135 Brompton Rd, Knightsbridge,
London SW1X 7XL
+44 (0) 203 8839033
Mon to Sun 11:30 – 23:00