Paramount Fine Foods for has made a name for itself in Canada, the USA and the Middle East with its Paramount Lebanese Kitchen restaurants. It has now opened three restaurants in London.
We called in at the Paramount Lebanese Kitchen just a few yards from Gloucester Road tube station – the others are in Paddington and Brixton.
We found a fairly long narrow restaurant with tables, chairs and banquettes in one half as well as at the far end of the room, and in the other half the service-counter. Along with the service-counter was the large white dome of a wood fired oven plus food preparation areas.
The lovely Maria, who looked after us and who guided us through the menu, told us everything, is made on the premises. It certainly smelt delicious.
This is neither a fine dining restaurant, nor a cosy cafe, Paramount Lebanese Kitchens specialise in quick service food; food that is deliciously tasty. Its aim is to produce fresh and healthy Middle-Eastern cuisine from fresh ingredients.
The service might be quick (they also do takeaways) but if you want to sit and have a relaxed, leisurely meal – that’s fine, no problem.
Maria guided us through the menu
It’s a fairly large menu, but not overwhelming, nevertheless Maria rightly realised that we might need some guidance through its options.
She suggested starting with the Mezza Plate which included hummus and moutabbal. It arrived along with some pitta bread straight from the oven puffed up like a small cushion.
‘You must try our labneh, falafels and kibbeh’ she said ‘and our manakeesh is wonderful too – the zaatar topped with thyme, sesame seeds and oil is my favourite. And I really recommend the mixed grill’.
We shared the various dishes. She was right they were all delicious. The manakeesh (a form of pizza) was great – there was nearly a fight for the last piece; and indeed for the last falafel – gloriously crisp on the outside with a super soft middle; and the spices used for the mixed grill really made the tender spiced meat sing out in the mouth with their flavours.
I loved the Paramount Tea
There is no alcohol but Maria vanished behind the serving counter long enough to make a couple of glasses of an apple, mint and ginger drink for us.
Desserts are simple affairs – ice cream, baklawa or kinafe. However, we were both too full and could manage no more than a coffee, or in my case, the house speciality Paramount Tea, with green tea, fresh mint, cinnamon stick and rose water (I was doubtful – but I loved it). Along with our coffee and tea appeared some tiny squares of home-made baklawa.
Prices vary enormously according to quantity, dish sizes, options, etc, but for example the Mixed Grill was £14.95; for the Mezza platter £7.95; a beef and chicken shawarma £11.50; 6 falafal £6.25; Coffee £2.50 and tea from £1.70.
We were told that it is planned to open more Paramount Lebanese Kitchens in the UK and indeed in Europe. We hope they do. paramountlebanesekitchen.co.uk