Al Arez

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The smell of shisha,  like that of cheap and sweet rose-scented perfume, spilled down the streets of “Little Beirut”, in the way that skulls at times lay in the forest warning intruders they’ve entered another tribes territory. Or perhaps in the way flesh replicas of Greek gods are prompted in the front of Abercrombie & Fitch stores; what puts some people off, incites others.

LocationAl Arez, Edgware Road, London

Head chef: Unknown

Cuisine: Lebanese

Camera: Nikon D40 – 50mm lens


Beyond the walls of smoke and burning charcoal, the interior consisted of a simple and blandly un-exotic design, resembling more of a canteen than an Eastern palace. Off course, we tend to often add a coating of fantasy over what we perceive as different cultures. When we explore these countries (in a similar way the restaurant reminded me of many Moroccan establishments), we understand that this simplicity is far closer to the truth, than images of twirling beards, belly dancers and snake charmers. Not that they don’t exist, just not in restaurants. Mostly.

The hummus tasted alright, yet the pita (bread) was deceptively more like something they bought in Sainsbury’s and then warmed in the microwave; at other Lebanese places I remember the amazingly soft and fresh bread that I had eaten. The meat was fine, but in truth it was little more than what my dad gets when he grills stuff (not in the sense that my dad doesn’t know how to use the grill but more in the sense that it hardly felt… well… Lebanese).

Lamb grill

Grade: Purgatory

Al Arez on Urbanspoon

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