Restaurant Review: Beyrouths

Head to Streatham for a taste of Lebanon’s hearty cuisine

This delightful Streatham eatery is conveniently located on the High Road and focuses on the meaty and healthy food of Lebanon. It is informal enough that it would make a great place for a second or third date for locals to the area.

The first thing we noticed when we walked in was the quirky Arab cafe style of the decor, all wooden tops, bright yellow tiled floors, high ceilings, exposed woodwork and metal scaffolding. There is a fresh juice bar and an open kitchen in the back. Greeted by a very bubbly and vivacious member of staff called Maria, we were led to our table. This would be an ideal restaurant for the summer and is great for people-watching as its wide windows are in full view of some of the colourful characters on the busy south London street outside. We were seated on a workmanlike wooden table and handed menus; it was a busy night, with families and couples enjoying the fresh food as Arabic pop played gently in the background.

The emphasis is certainly on choice at Beyrouths. There is a small wine list, but for a minor corkage fee, you are welcome to bring your own booze. There is an extensive list of freshly squeezed fruit juices also available, and you can mix up the juices however you like. The lunch menu has an emphasis on wraps and shows that this place is frequented by locals, which bodes well for the quality of the food. The dinner options are divided into individual dishes and the very tasty-looking sharing platters. The starters are plentiful – classics like hummus and falafel are on offer, but you can also order variations such as the Hummus Beyrouthy, which has a chilli addition. There are also more substantial Arabic starters such as kibbeh (fried lamb meatballs) and the classic baba ganoush.

We opted to share one of the variations on hummus: the Hummus Awarma, which is a pile of succulent diced lamb surrounded by fresh hummus and served with warm bread. It was delicious, and the mixture of lamb, bread and hummus worked very well. This is certainly a restaurant that invites you to eat with your hands – much more fun.

The mains are, again, extensive, with lots of traditional Lebanese dishes such as marinated lamb chops, chicken and lamb koftes and shish taouk. Seafood makes a decent showing on the menu, with grilled swordfish, grilled sea bass and grilled salmon on offer. The grilled sirloin steak looked pretty good too. As this was a date, in the interests of fun and variety we opted for a platter of chicken cubes, lamb cubes, chicken kofte and lamb kofte, which came with the option of two sides. Our food was grilled to perfection, the meat cooked with few spices to fit a blander palette, though if you like spice, it is available. Maria, our host, brought over new sauces for us to try with our mains.

We ended our meal with another Arabic classic, the baklava. It was crispy and not too sweet, with a light touch of fruit on the palate – spot-on as an accompaniment to a very strong coffee.

This is a locals’ restaurant and has a real cosy feel to it despite the spacious interior and exposed ceiling (a design choice). The portions are a good size, and Beyrouths certainly offers value for money considering the high quality that it maintains across all of its dishes.

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