Le Bab (Kebabs) – Kingly Court, Carnaby StreetHALAL STATUS • Halal Lamb and Chicken only • Prepared and cooked separately • No cross-contamination.
With an al fresco food court and three floors offering a plethora of cuisines and dining styles, our destination was straight to the top of Kingly Court in London’s Carnaby Street and “gourmet” kebab specialists Le Bab.
Claiming to combine the ingredients and flavours of the Middle East, near East and South Asia, Le Bab says it’s “reinvigorating kebabs with provenance, seasonality and technique honed in Michelin starred kitchens”.
The 45-seater eatery offers an acutely-intimate dining experience having, it appears, made optimum use of every available inch of space available.
With a small cocktail bar immediately to the right of the entrance, and an elaborate wood and charcoal-fired robata, which offers an interactive grill seating area up close and personal for around eight persons, setup directly opposite, it’s safe to say you’ll be rubbing shoulders with your neighbours in a lively and bustling environment.
The Cucumber & Mint Cooler was fairly fizzy, with the mint coming through far more strongly than the insipid cucumber.
And while the Berry Garden was larger, its volume of ice (we’d estimate around 70% ice) was equally so, culminating in the apparent flavours therein, as well as any fizz, being positively drowned out. Nevertheless, we were able to pick up a possible hint of ginger perhaps, with blue berry that was barely discernible.
It’s safe to say that mocktails aren’t exactly the mixologist’s forte.
A simple yet tasty little starter where, in spite of its lightly charred exterior, the cauliflower managed to retain a nice bite.
The labneh had a pleasing tangy edge to it, thanks to the pinch of sumac spice, and was sprinkled in almonds that provided that touch textural crunch.
An interesting little dish this with the beautifully tender Grilled Cod Cheeks undoubtedly being the star of the show.
While we couldn’t quite pick up on the lemon in the creamy, though slightly grainy, hummus base, we enjoyed the touch of smokiness provided by the crunchy nuts.
And tucked away neatly neath the cheeks, was the soft, wilted spinach which, aside from its vibrant green providing a visual contrast, didn’t really bring much else.
What an absolutely delightful bag of Chicken Nuggets!
It would be cliched to evaluate this upon the obvious, not to mention boring. Yes, the chicken was, indeed, perfectly cooked yadda yadda yadda; but what we marvelled over, believe it or not, was the fantastically light and airy, mildly spiced crispy batter. Had with the paprika mayonnaise, these nuggers were astonishingly good and one hell of an addictive munch.
The interplay of flavours and textures is what made this well conceived Paneer Kebab.
It was the way in which the sharpness of the pickled celery married with the sweetness of the smooth beetroot puree base, before gently giving way to the subtly familiar taste of the curry sauce, which we enjoyed the most.
Add to that the generous addition of the dry and crispy onions, and this was a wonderful kebab roll.
The unmistakable heat of the cumin from these strongly marinated cubes of chicken is what came through first before lingering pleasantly upon the palate. And while the taste of garlic was there in the background, the pickled carrots failed to counter said heat.
Despite the chicken being tender and moist, this Corn Fed Chicken Shish was the weakest of the three kebab rolls, though, nonetheless, tasty in its own right.
This was the highlight of the review though!
A superb kebab roll that was ultimately defined by both the sheer quality of the Herdwick lamb – a breed that’s native to the Lake District of Cumbria – and its cooking. Not only did it boast a beautifully charred and attractively dark, glistening exterior, but was, contrary to appearance, wholly soft and juicy on the inside, and expertly spiced without being overpowering.
As such, not only was it rich in flavour, but the few pickles therein coupled with the curry mayo helped to dampen the heat of the spices, with the crunchy parsnips being an enjoyable textural contrast.
- YES/ YES
The menu is uncomplicated and streamlined such that dishes are speedily prepared with a fast turn-around time. Catering for Halal chicken and quality Herdwick lamb only, these are prepared and cooked separately from the pork and beef on the menu.
As for their "gourmet" kebabs, then given that these are freshly prepared from the finest ingredients, made-to-order with in-house sauces, and charcoal grilled on an elaborate multi-grill Robata setup, which adds a great sense of theatre we might add, Le Bab certainly epitomises the true meaning of the word "gourmet".
In short, their kebab wraps were unique enough, both in terms of flavour and presentation, to leave us thoroughly impressed; and thus we'd recommend these all the way.
We would like to emphasise the point, however, that the place is quite cramped, meaning: you will invariably be seated up close and personal with all and sundry. It also houses a mini-alcohol bar.
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