Al Mabsam

Stained glass set into sandy-coloured walls, contrasting emerald green marble detail and dark wood beams all give Al Mabsam a rich and luxurious ambience. At the same time it is intimate, bright and welcoming. On the night that we visited, it was cool enough to sit outside. The restaurant is on a busy road with views across to City Centre, but the terrace is attractive and comfortable; a great place to sit and watch the world go by. There are big comfy chairs, large cream umbrellas and plants in pots. The menu offers an uncomplicated selection of favourite Arabic dishes; hot and cold mezze, hot breads straight from the saj, grills and sweets. We enjoyed the fresh, tangy tabouleh, a mild rendition of hommous and a great bowl of fatoush salad. Our hot mezze included lovely cheese sanbousik (pastries), big kebbeh (traditional lamb and bulgar meatballs) and warm cheese, thyme and labneh breads. The mixed grill was a little under-seasoned and not very hot. However my Lebanese companion explained that it is customary for meals like this to last for well over two hours, and many of the dishes which arrive at the table hot are not eaten until they are cold, so if they are not piping hot when they arrive it does not really matter. The service was extremely congenial and the waiting staff were well briefed on the menu and Arabic food in general. We enjoyed our meal and will be back for more.

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