Maroush V (November 2012)

Go here for the food, not the atmosphere. Maroush (and indeed many of its peers) on the Edgware Road work superbly well not just because of the food but also because of the atmosphere. I (and I would imagine many other ‘western’ diners) go here because of its authenticity: the clientele is predominantly Middle Eastern, the conversation lively, the pace frenetic and the whole experience somewhat akin to being thrust into a much more local environ. By contrast, Maroush on Vere Street felt positively sterile at lunchtime, fewer than half the tables occupied and those which were, largely by enterprising middle-aged shoppers seeking distraction or more excitement than that afforded by the nearby department stores. It you are in the area and want Middle Eastern to eat, then definitely do go. The food is amazing. My dining comrade and I have eaten in many similar restaurants both in London and in the Middle East itself and there are few places that make either a better hummus (go for the ‘Beiruty’ – with chilli and garlic) or fuul (cooked and mashed fava beans served with olive oil and garlic). Just eat the mezze, no need for mains. I could go on: the moutabal (aubergine puree), mouhamara (spicy walnut paste), the kibbeh shameyieh (deep-fried lamb meatballs) are all superb. Throw in as much bread and as many pickles as you could eat (a lot in my case) and one is in a form of culinary heaven.