Mamounia Lounge (Middle Eastern) – Knightsbridge
The first thing that leaps out at you when walking past Mamounia Lounge on a busy evening in Knightbridge is its buzzing atmosphere.
The monochromatic brown and tan colour scheme, which includes the effective use of curtains and hanging drapes, and Moroccan style gold-plated cutwork light shades, which cast atmospheric shadows across the walls and ceiling, combine well to create a wonderfully warm, cosy and relaxed environment.
With dark heavy tables and black chairs, along with thick, fluffy red shag pile rugs, it doesn’t take long to feel that Middle Eastern vibe going on here.
For a seemingly narrow restaurant, Mamounia Lounge also does remarkably well in making full use of the restricted space by comfortably accommodating 100.
While a capacity of 40 is available at the front, a short walk up a flight of stairs and past the restaurant’s well partitioned alcohol bar brings you to an impressively long dining lounge at the back which not only offers space for 50 more, which includes an intimate booth area for 10 known as the “royal box”, but also succeeds in lending a touch of luxury and opulence.
These two elegantly presented mocktails certainly looked the part. While the Virgin Punch tasted just as good as it looked, with a sweet fruity combo that allowed for the passionfruit and strawberry to come through strongly, the mint in the Virgin Mamounia was pronounced and thoroughly refreshing.
Simply presented with glasses comprising of around 70% ice, while the Classic didn’t quite achieve the balance we were looking for given the hint of lemon against the strong mint, the pineapple in its counterpart, though weak to begin with, slowly began to come through, though not nearly as much as we’d have liked.
As with any good hommus, this was smooth in terms of its consistency, with a slight tangy edge to it courtesy of the squeeze of the lemon.
What an absolutely fantastic Meze this Mohammara was.
The depth of flavour of the chilli red peppers mixed with the roasted nuts was superb. But what really brought the dish alive was the clever addition of the slithers of red chilli which married wonderfully with the smoky, sweetness of the peppers, to deliver a taste sensation that made this the best of the cold mezes.
Smooth consistency is what defined this smartly presented Moutabel. What made this stand out from the many other Moutabels we’ve had is the balance of flavours.
The combination of the freshness of the mint, the burst of sweetness from the pomegranate topping, and the tangy sourness of the lemon juice assured that this was one to remember.
This really was a memorable Falafel. With a deliciously crispy exterior, the cumin-infused soft interior was perfectly tempered by the slightly sour, though watery, Tahini sauce.
LEBANESE & MOROCCAN PASTRIES
An interesting selection of pastries here.
The Cheese Sambousek certainly had a soft, almost creamy cheesy interior that was encased by a thin, semi-crunchy pastry.
The Bourek spring roll, on the other hand, was crispy, crunchy and flaky, with a subtly spiced though tasty vegetable filling.
As for the Cheese Briouat, then its cheese filling was both slightly more dense and slightly more flavourous than its Sambousek competitor making this far better.
But its Lamb cousin stole the show. With the spice perfectly balanced, this little package was full of flavour.
And the Chef should certainly be proud of this one. Truffle hommus heaven here!
Not only was the hommus once again ultra smooth, but it had the distinct fragrant taste of truffle running through it. Add to that the sweetness of the dried carrot and beetroot crisps, which provided that much needed textural contrast, along with the light pepperiness of the watercress leaves, the earthiness of the mushrooms, and fresh muskiness of the fresh truffles, and what you had here was an earth-shatterinly addictive dish that positively held our interest right to the end. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
This Quinoa and Grape Salad was a decent one – crunchy and subtly flavoured with a mild minty aftertaste.
MOROCCAN MAIN COURSES
According to their website:
Chef says: All meats are halal and marinated for a minimum of 24 hours
#LoveLambWeek (1-7 September) indeed! The delicately spiced shoulder of lamb was beautifully cooked, offering a texture that was mostly soft and succulent, but also satisfyingly chewy in places.
As to the addition of the slices of orange placed on either side of the wooden platter, an erect date, and a duo of dainty little pocketed apricots containing what seemed like prunes, then while we all appreciated the attempt at thinking-outside-the-box, we weren’t entirely sold by the concept.
For one, we were unanimous that the orange was far too intense in flavour to allow for the lamb to stand on its own merit. And while one Lion appreciated the sweetness and chewiness delivered by either the apricots and the date, the other believed that the dish required something far sharper than the orange slices to balance each given mouthful.
The pot of bouillon (that’s the posh French word for broth), on the otherhand, while fine in terms of consistency, had an annoyingly bitter edge to it.
And as for the el dente rice, then it was subtly spiced and a good addition to the dish.
A second Chef’s Special that left us mightily impressed.
To our delight, the slow-cooked confit duck turned out to be ever so juicy and flaky.
The bed of spinach was the perfect foil against the sweetness of the caramelised plums, while the prune droplets, seemingly intensified in flavour, added an additional level of sweetness that allowed for the distinct taste of the duck meat to come through strongly.
Overall, a very satisfying eat and one we’d recommend any day of the week.
The most impressive thing about this well charred, though nonetheless tender, baby chicken was its spicy marination.
And while we again dismissed the slice of orange as extraneous, on this occasion we felt as though the prunes didn’t bring much to the plate. What’s more, we were left scratching our heads as to whether the gooseberry was added as a garnish or something more!
More bizarrely was the fact that the “grilled Chilli and a grilled Tomato stuffed with Herbs, Shallots and Bread crumbs”, as mentioned on the menu for the Farruj Meshwi, were entirely absent. Unless we’ve overlooked something, this dish appeared to be somewhat altered!
In any case, for what it was worth, we were left to enjoy the simple flavours of the rice and the chicken alone without the distraction of all those misplaced additions.
This smartly presented Orange and Almond Cake was a great recommendation made by Mamounia Lounge‘s jovial and ever-smiling manager, James.
The combination of the luxuriously creamy pistachio ice cream, the sweet orange segment, and the toasted almond flakes were certainly required to counter the bitter-sweet sharpness delivered by the cake’s crispy caramelised orange top layer.
A delicious dessert to round things off!
The biggest shortcoming here was that the fondant turned out to be dense and stodgy, and consequently dry.
Despite this, however, it did manage to retain a relatively liquidy chocolate centre.
And since this slow, gooey outpour had a bitterness to it, the sharpness of the blackberry and strawberry fruits coupled with the sweetness of the deliciously smooth vanilla ice cream was definitely needed to balance things out.
In the end, however, a fairly substandard fondant.
And, of course, we couldn’t visit a Moroccan-inspired restaurant without ending the evening enjoying a Moroccan Tea. What we got was absolutely fantastic both in terms of its presentation – a shiny brass plated tea pot – and taste. In fact, the intensity of the tea was such that one could smell its fragrance when being poured from a height.
But be sure to have this “medium sweetened”; only then will you appreciate its soothingly sweet, fresh mintiness.
The Green Tea was always going to pale in comparison!
- YES/ NO
Its confident blend of the traditional and the modern is easily discernable in both its Lebanese- and Moroccan-inspired menu, and its luxurious decor.
As such, not only will you enjoy some outstanding fusion dishes, but a moody atmosphere that's both relaxed and buzzing.
Mamounia Lounge is one of those restaurants that we'll be returning to in a hurry very soon and one we'd recommend without hesitation.
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