Tel: +44 (0)20 7385 5155
Address: 1 Rainville Road, Fulham, London W6 9HA
Cuisine Type: Lebanese
Hammersmith (PICCADILLY, DISTRICT, HAMMERSMITH & CITY)
Mes Amis is an extraordinary destination for anyone bored of London’s expensive, inattentive restaurant ambience. This place is like someone’s front room; and indeed it to all purposes really is. An open plan dining room-cum-lounge extends back from the main seating area, leading the way to the toilets. Close to both the red-braces-and-Merc River Cafe and the far more inspiring Riverside Studios, Mes Amis is a place where your meal’s ingredients are fresh and on display as being so. When the proprietor notices he is out of something, he will be prone to leaving the restaurant in your capable hands while he goes on an errand. All this and in London.
The food and its preparation are no less extraordinary. We order Lebanese mese, as seems fitting in a Lebanese restaurant around for some seven years – this comes with perfectly cooked cauliflower in a meat sauce coat, lamb samosas, aubergine hommous, warm pitta bread and other savoury delights. Between two, this will set you back just shy of £10, but you get a lot for your money – and considering it is hand made from scratch by the proprietor – while you wait and freshly cooked, it is worthy of your every penny. Served alongside a modest but pleasing selection of wines, taking in Spain, Italy, France, South Africa and – oh yes – Lebanon, there is really a wine for all tastes.
Main course is rather more of a tricky affair. Officially there is a menu, of course, including Lebanese style chicken and a variety of other chicken, lamb and salmon dishes, with one vegetarian option. In practice, the proprietor will offer you one of his “surprises”, having asked you questions from a multi-choice questionnaire which seems set to tell your personality as much as your food preferences. Spicy or not? White or Red? No, the meat… medium or rare? Whatever, having answered your questions, you will soon be presented with the dish that the proprietor thinks you will like best. I was treated to a real surprise, featuring rice and a red pepper and a couple of chunks of chicken. The surprise was in the eating, for it transpired that most of the chicken and vegetables are inside the pepper, which has been girdled. A wealth of flavours helped the wine along nicely from there on in.
There is no dessert menu – rather, some traditional baclawa is served. Suet-based, baclawa are a wicked alternative to chocolate and are becoming increasingly popular throughout London. Rightly so. We were rationed second helpings – uncharged – and discovered that the bill, including two bottles of wine, was just over £26 per head. For being transported to Lebanon, enjoying someone’s home hospitality and a good deal of wine, this was an excellent proposition.
* The restaurant is open from 6pm – 11pm Monday to Saturday only and does not accept cards.