Beirut Express in the middle of buzzing and ethnic Edgware Road is a member of the Lebanese restaurant dynasty Maroush. There are several “Maroush”, a couple of Beirut Expresses, some Ranoush Juices and more. My date was happy to assure me, that this particular Beirut Express in Edgware Road is the best of the whole bunch, and among the best budget Lebanese eateries in London. After having eaten there I have little doubt that he is right.
Beirut Express is not going to win any design awards and would not be my top choice for a romantic dinner. It is functional with tiled, easy to clean floor and steel furniture. The centrepiece of the room is a big rotating shwarma grill surrounded by a counter. We sat at the counter, close to the grill and it was rather cosily hot there. Service was brusque and only brought my tab water after asking 10 times when we were about to leave.
Like a lot of Lebanese restaurants and most restaurants on Edgware Road no alcohol is served. A welcome break for my poor liver some might say and abstinence did not feel so bad with the deliciously fresh, squeezed to order fruit juices (£2.50 each). I had the green melon one which tasted of summer and tropical beaches.
The food is simple and unassuming but very tasty and as a result the clientèle comprised not of only passing tourists and foodies, but also of Lebanese people living in the area. We ordered a very generous Mixed Starters platter (£12) to share which was served with pickles and pita bread. I won’t talk about the presentation, but flavours were abundant and I could not stop eating until I was ready to burst. There were a pair of fluffy, light and non-greasy falafel, some wine leaves filled with a delicious mixture of rice, parsley, mint and onions, and morish cold aubergines tasting faintly of cinnamon roasted with tomatoes, chick peas and onions. The hommos was creamy and smooth, the aubergine-based baba ghanouj flavourful with just the right amount of smokiness and the tabbouleh was fresh and tangy. I could not fault any of the elements of this meze platter.
Halloum Meshwi (£6.50), fried halloumi cheese served just with a squeeze of lemon, was salty and squeaky and very good. The only underwhelming dish was the Spicy Lebanese Salad (£5) with consisted mainly of soggy lettuce and was far too sour.
With the Mixed Grills (£13) consisting of a chicken skewers, a lamb skewer and minced lamb, we had plenty of food. The meat was fresh and good, eaten together with the very spicy chilli and yoghurt sauce as well as pita bread, but overall, what really stood out, were the mezze. In fact while writing this review I have developed a sudden urge to go back to Beirut Express immediately for more baba ghanouj, hommos and wine leaves. That’s where this write-up comes to an abrupt halt, as I shall hurry for my mezze fix. Bye for now.
Value for Money: 7/10
Verdict: Low key and unpretentious Lebanese deliciousness.
The Skinny Bib also loves Beirut Express and that’s all the reviews I could find.
For more Lebanese you might want to pay a visit to cheap and cheerful Yalla Yallain Soho or Hiba close to London Bridge