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Levantine Heaven in St John’s Wood with Yasmeen:
Apparently fish and chips is the latest trend in the Parisian gastro scene which got me thinking about transplanted food cultures and influences. Would a Parisian fish supper be acceptable to the average Brit? What did this gastro invasion mean for French culinary culture which is globalising faster than Donald Trump changes his mind on…just about everything. I was considering these weighty issues when invited to review Yasmeen, a Lebanese restaurant in St John’s Wood who just won the Time Out Love London Awards for best restaurant in St John’s Wood. It’s also the restaurant’s first anniversary so it seemed like a good time to see how it has bedded in.
Lebanese food is rooted in its Levantine heritage. It’s that area of the Middle East that also encompasses Egypt, Palestine and. Syria. But because of the country’s location, there is also a strong Mediterranean influence as well as elements from the cuisines of erstwhile invaders, the Turkish and the French. It’s one of those food cultures rooted in tradition so I’m fascinated to see how the chef at Yasmeen approaches the classic Lebanese dishes.
Mouhalabia (£6.00) is a Lebanese milk pudding with rose water flavouring – a bit like a rose water blancmange. I’m not a huge rose water fan but this was subtle enough to work for me.