Massis: No reason to go (April 2017)

Let’s be brutal and to the point: if you are in the Paddington area and want to eat Middle Eastern food, just hop on any bus or walk 15 minutes until you hit the Edgware Road, where a broad spectrum of excellent, authentic and well-priced options exists. In other words, don’t go to Massis – an over-priced and disappointing alternative located in the Paddington Basin development, offering a poor imitation of cuisine from the region. Even if circumstances were to dictate that you were obliged to eat somewhere in the Basin, then Pearl Liang, a very acceptable Chinese would rank higher than Massis. This perhaps does Pearl Liang a disservice; visiting the local branch of Pret a Manger would probably be more satisfying than Massis. Where did it all go wrong? Well it probably doesn’t help that Paddington Basin singularly lacks atmosphere, the north London equivalent of Canary Wharf being perhaps an appropriate image. On weekends, the whole place is almost dead. Notwithstanding this consideration, Massis had only three tables occupied when we visited on a recent lunchtime – never a good sign. Despite the lack of custom, the service was singularly inept. Yes, there were a lot of staff present, but none seemed to know what the others were doing. When we decided to move from our table outside to the indoor area, our request was handled with ill grace, some of our unfinished drinks were simply taken away, and one of our dishes was ruined by having a salt shaker accidentally tipped over it. It was only after insisting (rather than the server offering) that a replacement for the now-inedible dish was ordered. The food itself was also bland beyond belief: the hummus, for example, was a poor effort compared even to the value options found in supermarkets, while the cheese rikakat pastries resembled the sort of effort a student might prepare, probably when drunk. There were some highlights (such as the sautéed chicken livers), but these were few and far between. We were left feeling generally dissatisfied and out of pocket too. A return visit will not be imminent.