And FtLion Award Winners 2017 are…

Feed the Lion has been at the forefront in bringing you the very best news and reviews of the UK’s Halal culinary scene for a number of years now.

The #FtLionAwards is a fitting finale to all the work that goes into showcasing what’s hot and trending and what’s uninspiringly run-of-the-mill. More importantly, however, it recognises and acknowledges the pinnacle of Halal gastronomy ranging from the best dishes to the best restaurants.

And so the winners of this year’s #FtLionAwards (sponsored by Smoky Boys BBQ & Grill Haus) are:

BEST RESTAURANT AWARD

Best Restaurant 2017 - Grand Trunk Road, London

(Shortlisted Nominees)

Winner: GRAND TRUNK ROAD, London
Runner-up: ZELMAN MEATS, London
Readers’ Choice: DRUNCH, London

Zelman Meats Harvey Nicholas, Knightsbridge Halal Wagyu Meat London Restaurant

Zelman Meats, Knightsbridge

As good as Zelman Meats was, being rated 4.5/5 ROARS, the only winner for us, with the year’s only perfect score of 5/5 ROARS, has to be Grand Trunk Road. With a Head Chef at the peak of his powers, and a man behind the wheel who was instrumental in helping Tamarind in London gain its first Michelin Star (which it holds to this day), the calibre of food was right up there with the best.

Zelman Meats in Knightsbridge (the only branch to cater for Halal) was a cut above the rest (pun intended) not only when it came to steaks, but burgers too. Having won the Best Steak for its Chilean Wagyu and Best Burger for again its Wagyu version (see below), this is a quality restaurant worth entering Harvey Nichols for.

As for Drunch, then since we rated it a solid 4/5 ROARS, while awarding it Best Newcomer and Best Main, we can entirely appreciate why many of our readers consider this the best.

BEST CURRY HOUSE AWARD

(Shortlisted Nominees)

Winner: GRAND TRUNK ROAD, London
Runner-up: SCENE, Manchester
Readers’ Choice: DISHOOM, London

Scene Indian Restaurant Manchester Halal Food

Scene, Manchester

With a chef that excudes class and experience, and given that Grand Trunk Road is FtL’s Best Restaurant of the year, it was inevitable.

Our Manchester team considered Scene to be a strong contender for this category though.

They were left impressed by the restaurant in general and particularly enjoyed its Chicken Makhani.

The Readers’ Choice for Dishoom is entirely understandable given their continued success and progress. Only this year, they launched their Kensington branch.

BEST NEWCOMER AWARD

Best Newcomer 2017 - Drunch, Regent's Park, London

(Shortlisted Nominees)

Winner: DRUNCH, London
Runner-up: MESA KITCHEN, London
Readers’ Choice: MESA KITCHEN, London

Mesa Kitchen and Lounge Restaurant Southgate London Halal logoHaving featured in six of the 10 award categories this year, is it any surprise that Drunch has been voted Best Newcomer 2017?

They’ve also won the Best Main award for their Cumbrian Chicken, and were runner-up for Best Beverage and Best Starters.

And we’re definitely with our readers in recognising Mesa Kitchen as one of the debutants of the year, having also been rated alongside Drunch with a 4/5 ROAR rating.

Not only has it triumphed with its phenominally good Pear Cloud mocktail, but is also runner-up for its gravy-covered Roast Burger in the Best Burger category below.

BEST KEBAB AWARD

Best Kebab 2017 - Tarshish, London

(Shortlisted Nominees)

Winner: TARSHISH – Lamb Shish (London)
Runner-up: TARSHISH – Adana Shish
Readers’ Choice: TARSHISH

Well, that’s pretty emphatic! Having won Best Newcomer Restaurant/ Takeaway in London at this year’s British Kebab Awards, it’s safe to say Tarshish do some mean kebabs.

With an FtL review rating of 3.5/5 ROARS, it didn’t quite make our shortlist for Best Newcomer; but, aside from these kebabs, there were a number of dishes that we really enjoyed, such as its Braised Lamb Shank.

NOTE: Had Veyso’s in Hertford decided not to cater for Halal shortly after our review, they would have won this award hands down. Some of the best kebabs we’ve ever had! Here’s s hoping they reintroduce Halal to their menu.

BEST STEAK AWARD

Best Steak 2017 - Zelman Meats, London

(Shortlisted Nominees)

Winner: ZELMAN MEATS – Chilean Wagyu (London)
Runner-up: CHAI WU Wagyu Steak Sirloin (London)
Readers’ Choice: DRUNCH (London)

wagyu steak Chai Wu Chinese Harrods Halal Fine Dining

Chai Wu’s Wagyu

Nothing beats a prime cut piece of perfectly cooked (medium) wagyu, in this case Chilean-reared.

An absolutely sublime cut of melt-in-your-mouth steak that will have us coming back to Zelman Meats in a hurry.

While Chai Wu’s Wagyu Steak Sirloin was pipped to the post on this occasion, this was still an incredible class of meat that would have won at any other time. We still remember its natural meaty umami taste like it was yesterday.

Yup; Drunch’s 10oz Sirloin also left us slack-jawed. In fact, our review read: “Yes, yes, yes… yes, and yes some more!” A food orgasm if ever there was one.

BEST BURGER AWARD

Best Burger 2017 - Zelman Meats, London

(Shortlisted Nominees)

Winner: ZELMAN MEATS – Wagyu “Gruby” Burger (London)
Runner-up: MESA KITCHEN Roast Burger (London)
Readers’ Choice: BAND OF BURGERS (London)

Beef steak burger Mesa Kitchen and Lounge Restaurant Southgate London Halal

Mesa Kitchen’s Roast Burger covered in gravy!

Approaching the end of the year, we were all certain that Mesa Kitchen was going to take this award.

Zelman Meats, however, blew us away with this simple, yet incredibly flavourous and well balanced Wagyu burger.

Mesa Kitchen’s, however, was, in comparison, the yin to Zelman Meats’ yang. While simplicity defined the latter, the former’s Roast Burger had a complimentary gravy sauce poured over the top (yup!). But, believe you us, it worked so effectively in enhancing the flavours to another dimension.

We’ve always been impressed by Band of Burgers and its drive to keep creating and testing the waters through innovation and daring.

BEST DESSERT AWARD

Best Dessert 2017 - Talli Joe, London

(Shortlisted Nominees)

Winner: TALLI JOE Black Gajar Halwa (London)
Runner-up: RICKSHAW RICK’S That’s the Way the Cookie Crumbles (Leicester)
Readers’ Choice: LAZ CAMDEN (London)

Rickshaw Ricks Halal Leicester Indian Food Restaurant

That’s the Way the Cookie Crumbles

May not look like much, but honestly, and not swayed by knowledge of this having been included in Time Out’s Top Ten Dishes of 2016, this Black Gajar Halwa had us fighting for the last crumbs!

This was also part of a trio of desserts that were beautiful in their own right. FYI, Talli Joe was rated 4.5/5 ROARS and was thus shortlisted for the Best Restaurant award.

Our Leicester team swore by how amazing newcomer Rickshaw Rick’s quirkily named ‘That’s the Way the Cookie Crumbles’ dessert was. Essentially a ‘dirty shake’, this included inhouse made cookies that were described as “by far the best cookies we’ve had”!

Laz Camden also had a dessert shortlisted with us. The Tirilice was effectively a sponge; but oh what a sponge it was!

BEST MAIN AWARD

Best Main 2017 - Drunch, London

(Shortlisted Nominees)

Winner: DRUNCH – Cumbrian Chicken (London)
Runner-up: GRAND TRUNK ROAD Lucknow Ki Nihari (London)
Readers’ Choice: CHAI WU (London)

lamb shank Grand Trunk Road GT GTR Indian Restaurant South Woodford London Halal Curry

Grand Trunk Road’s Lamb Shank

This was our most fiercely contested category. It came down to the best Lamb Shank we’ve ever had, viz. Grand Trunk Road, against one of the best chicken dishes by Drunch.

But, underestimate the chicken at your peril. Given how notoriously difficult it is to produce a chicken dish that can compete in flavour with its more meaty rivals, we decided on the Cumbrian Chicken by Drunch. This was a sublime dish and one that’s worth travelling for.

As said, Grand Trunk Road’s Lamb Shank was definitive proof of a master chef at the peak of his powers. The balance of spices were something to behold!

And if the Beijing Duck at Chai Wu – undoubtedly the evening’s showstopper when we reviewed and the restaurant’s pièce de résistance – is a reason for the Readers’ Choice, then we can see why.

BEST STARTER AWARD

Best Starter 2017 - Grand Trunk Road, London

(Shortlisted Nominees)

Winner: GRAND TRUNK ROAD Rawalpindi ka Chapli Kebab (London)
Runner-up: DRUNCH – Herb Roasted Salmon Nicoise Salad (London)
Readers’ Choice: MAMOUNIA LOUNGE (London)

Drunch Regents Park Halal Food Restaurant dessert

Drunch’s Herb Roasted Salmon Nicoise Salad

But there was no stopping Grand Trunk Road in this category. A Chapli Kebab unlike any other which, despite its daintiness, was one of epic proportions. Finely balanced spices and a kebab that was divine.

Drunch’s Herb Roasted Salmon Nicoise Salad was simple in its make up, but punched way above its weight.

All the ingredients on this plate complimented one another to leave a knock out dish.

Mamounia Lounge was preferred by our readers, and given its inclusion as a nominee in this category, we know why. Its Truffle Hommus was sensationally presented and sensational in taste.

BEST BEVERAGE AWARD

Best Beverage 2017 - Mesa Kitchen, London

(Shortlisted Nominees)

Winner: MESA KITCHEN Pear Cloud (London)
Runner-up: DRUNCH SELFie Lisa (London)
Readers’ Choice: TARSHISH (London)

Drunch Regents Park Halal Food Restaurant

Drunch’s SELFie Lisa (middle)

We were left dumbstruck by Mesa Kitchen’s Pear Cloud (the drink to the right) not least because it was presented by a restaurant that had only been open a mere week when we visited.

While it was rated 4/5 ROARS, and has a number of dishes shortlisted for these awards, it was this drink that will long live in our collective memories.

As for Drunch’s SELFie Lisa, then in terms of presentation, it was very clever; in terms of taste, however, it was even better. Very original and one that we thoroughly enjoyed.

The Readers’ Choice for this category was arguably our most surprising of the lot. While we weren’t that taken aback by Tarshish’s half-a-dozen beverages, our readers thought otherwise.


Finally, the winner of the £30 voucher to spend at any Smoky Boys branch is Sumaya (@sumaya_a_).

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