Yasmeen Restaurant

Open Mon–Sat; Noon–11.30pm and 6.30–11pm; Sunday; Noon – 10.30pm

The blurb

‘​​Yasmeen Restaurant is a newly opened Lebanese restaurant in St John’s Wood. We take pride in our authenticity and our ability to please our customers. Come join us for some fine dining, or call us for bookings and free home delivery. All of Yasmeen’s food is Halal. ​

The style
White table cloths, pale wood floors. A light, elegant room made even lighter and airier by huge floor to ceiling windows and a skylight. There are tables outside on a sizeable terrace, which would be a fantastic draw on a sunny day (it was raining when we turned up – thank you, English summer). Photos of old Lebanon, taken by the owner’s father, line the whitewashed walls and add an appealing note of authenticity – worlds away from clichéd jewel-coloured upholstery and hookah pipes.

The crowd
St John’s Wood locals. It was clearly a favourite of the well-groomed, loved-up 60-something couple at the table to our right. It looked as though it was their weekly date night (in a good way); alternatively they might have just met on illicitencounters.com (speculation is half the fun of dining, don’t you think?). There was also an absolutely vile Australian woman at the table to our left, with such a sense of entitlement I wanted to punch her. She complained about pretty much everything she could (none of which was worthy of complaint – you know the type), and I was impressed by the professionalism of Bashir, the manager, as he talked her out of it and actually made her laugh. Marina, our waitress, was equally charming.

The food…
… is sublime. We were offered a generous spread of hummous, falafels, tabbouleh, moutabel, grilled halloumi etc. Standard Lebanese fare, you might think, but the lightness of touch and clever seasoning lifted it all high above average. We were just about full to burst when spicy, zesty koftas and seriously yummy Yasmeen’s Arayes (‘Lebanese pizza with meat topped with cheese’) arrived at the table.  My foodie husband, who selflessly accompanies me on such missions, isn’t really a fan of Middle Eastern cuisine, but he was in raptures over the quality and delicacy with which everything was presented. He said that the falafels were ‘light as clouds’, and asked, rhetorically I hope, ‘who knew aubergines could taste so good?’ At the end of the meal we were smilingly presented with a huge platter of watermelon slices and plump, ripe cherries on ice – a nice touch.

The wine
Marina persuaded us to try two Lebanese wines: Ksara Blanc du Blanc 2012, a Lebanese sauvignon blanc, which was delicate and fragrant, with floral notes – a worthy match to its French counterparts; and Reserve du Couvent 2012, Ksara, a full-bodied, spicy Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah& Cinsault blend. A lot of thought has gone into the wine list, which is extensive and varied.

This is an impressively well-run new venture, with an attractive young team that provides delicious food at very reasonable prices with delightful, impeccable service. Highly recommended.

Yasmeen Restaurant, 1 Blenheim Terrace, London, NW8; www.yasmeenrestaurant.com;020 762 42921

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