Reviewed by Ruman
The kebab renaissance project. Who knew such a thing existed?
When I think of a kebab, I think of one of two things – a greasy takeaway or a sit down meal at one of the many Turkish restaurants that line the streets of North London. Changing our perceptions of the humble kebab is the team behind Le Bab, a cosy restaurant reinvigorating kebabs in Soho’s Kingly Court. Zohra met with the Founder and Executive Chef, Ed Brunet, just before their switch to using halal lamb and chicken in their Soho restaurant and we promised to try the food as soon as they launched.
At Halal Gems, our mission is to encourage transparency in the food chain and improve standards across the industry. Ethics play a big role in what we do and it is always refreshing to meet restaurant owners whose values align with ours. At Le Bab, the team sources seasonal, organic vegetables and special wild and free range meat. On top of that, everything you eat in Le Bab is made from scratch in house. Having opened in January 2016, Le Bab is popular amongst Londoners and tourists alike and we expect them to see a rise in halal diners as news of their halal status spreads (just take a look at the queues at Stax which is on the floor below as an indication). We visited on a Saturday afternoon around 1.30pm when a few tables were filled. By 2pm, the restaurant was packed, with more diners still coming in to see if there was a table available.
We started off with drinks. Zohra ordered the Cucumber and Mint Cooler while I went for the Pink Lemonade. Both were refreshing and just what we needed!
Our theory of ‘anything fried tastes good’ was proven to be true in the case of the Cauliflower which had been deep fried and served with labneh, sumac, coriander seeds and nuts. The coolness of the labneh and the crunch of the nuts paired well with the cauliflower. Admittedly, I was quite impressed with this dish given it’s not something I would normally order (I’m terrible at eating my veggies – sorry Mum!).
Next up on our starters were the Grilled Cod Cheeks. Cod cheeks are literally the cheeks of a cod’s head which doesn’t sound great but tastes so good. I can only explain the texture as being smoother than your ordinary grilled cod. Served with lemon hummus, wilted spinach, szechuan pepper and dukka, this starter was polished off. We would definitely recommend it, particularly on a cold day!
The Corn Fed Chicken Shish was served with pickled broccoli and Harissa mayo. When brought to our table, alongside our other main course, we both immediately remarked on the presentation. Unsure of how we were supposed to eat it (Do you roll it up? Do you break off the flatbread and use your hands? Or do you use a knife and fork?) we opted to get stuck in with our hands and enjoy every flavour that hit our palate. The meat to bread ratio was just right and though we enjoyed the taste of the Chicken Shish, it was the lamb that stole the show.
A kebab can be a difficult dish to photograph. Brown food doesn’t picture particularly well but Le Bab have managed to create a dish that is both aesthetically pleasing and excellent in taste. If there’s one thing that was made clear at this point in our meal it was that the Le Bab not only know how to create exquisite flavour combinations but also the perfect textures in dishes that are well presented.
The Herdwick Lamb Adana was served on a flatbread just like the chicken shish, but topped with curry mayo, pickled onions and crispy parsnips. Beneath the adana kebab was a carrot and cumin purée. These flavours and textures combined were an absolute delight. The spices from the kebab, the crispy texture of the parsnips and the sharpness of the pickled onions combined created an explosion of flavours in our mouths.
Mixed kale made a great accompaniment to the main meals. The dish is made up of a variety of kale leaves, sautéed in lamb juices for that little extra flavour kick. The leaves were sautéed perfectly, resulting in a dish with both great texture and great flavour.
As a side we ordered the Double Cooked Fries. We had actually ordered the fries with fondue initially but just as it hit our table it was taken away after being informed that the fondue had been made using wine. The fries were pretty standard and served with a chilli sauce and a garlic sauce.
Value for money: 8/10 (£53.50 total bill excluding service charge // £26.75pp – we received a complimentary meal)
Halal Status: Chicken and lamb served are halal. The falafel and paneer options are cooked separately so are both halal and vegetarian friendly. Note the fondue contains wine and is therefore not halal. The restaurant serves pork and uses completely separate instruments and grills for halal dishes.
Address: Top Floor, Kingly Court, Carnaby Street, London, W1B 5PW
Nearest station: Oxford Circus (Circle, Bakerloo and Victoria Lines) and Piccadilly Circus (Bakerloo and Piccadilly Lines)
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Ruman eats a brownie a day, but only with coffee. She struggles to eat more than 2/3 of an adult size portion of food, but always has room for dessert. When not exploring restaurants, galleries or cities around the world, Ruman is a Marketing Ninja at Halal Gems, where she also holds the title of Chief Chocolate Officer.
Forever consumed by a mixture of wanderlust and FOMO, her interests include all things social media, travel, charity, photography and food.
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Reviewed by Ruman