Maramia, here I go again!
Have you ever eaten Palestinian? I haven’t. I’ve had Peruvian, Congolese, Ukrainian, Syrian, Berber, Fijian, Icelandic, Armenian, you name it. I even once enjoyed Icelandic Turkish fusion, but Palestinian, never. It seems I’m behind the times though, even our Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron and his wife Samantha (she of the Smythson bags) are, so I’m informed, aficionados. Well, Dave, I’m sorry but the secret’s out! So where do these politicos go to fill their stomachs? I’m inclined, for once, not to give the secret away. Believe me, this is entirely for selfish reasons and not remotely to maintain the privacy of these people! The thing is, the Maramia Café in Notting Hill (where else?) is so small and cute and cosy, the food so fabulous, the service excellent and the bill so low, that I want to keep this little treasure all to myself. It wouldn’t do at all for every Tim, Dave and Jeremy to steal my table there, but then again, this is such a brilliant place to know about, that I just can’t help myself. I must share it with you, dear reader!
The café, which is more of a restaurant really, was established in 2005 following its previous incarnation as a successful food stall on Portobello Market. The clientele are young, funky, and, certainly on the night we went, incredibly attractive. Tiny as it is, is seems to have pop star credentials among the locals. Where else can you drink wine imported from Bethlehem or Beirut? How appropriate for our pre-Christmas dinner with friends, both of them foodies. The menu is clear and concise with lots of seriously tempting choices, all with an Eastern Mediterranean slant. The four of us started with Moutabel, baked aubergine with sesame oil, lemon juice and garlic and a goodly portion of Hummous, both vegetarian, and some quite heavenly Palestinian bread along side. Then the plate with deliciously fresh Falafel of ground chickpeas and broad beans mixed with Arabic spices, and Kibbeh, deep fried lamb and bulgur shells filled with seasoned minced lamp and pine kernels arrived, accompanied by super fresh tasty lemony Taboulleh. Another complete delight!
Finally, we got stuck into our main courses, a Palestinian Moussaka of fried aubergines, chick peas, onion and spices served with rice and salad and a massive portion of what is billed as the star of the menu, Chicken Mousakhan, which consists of grilled chicken breast cooked with onion jam, pine nuts and sumac placed between thin slices of home-made bread, more of a pancake, in fact, served with fresh salad and yoghurt dipping sauce. I tell you, we couldn’t believe our taste buds, the food was so outstandingly delicious, fresh, tasty and completely ungreasy, as well as superbly presented! All this so very unexpected in the small backwater of one of London’s trendiest areas. The owner, not surprisingly, a young tall dark and hansome Palestinian and his staff looked after us as though we were precious visitors in need of extra special sustenance; Middle Eastern hospitality at its finest!
Despite the fact that we were literally stuffed to the gills and could barely move with repleteness, we could not, of course resist the gorgeously succulent bakhlava with our coffee, while our friends ordered a mindblowing Basboussa, a fluffy Paelestinian cake resplendent with coconut and honey with their mint teas.
So far, so thoroughly thrilling but then the final icing on the cake, so to speak, the bill. The four of us had eaten like kings and had enjoyed every last morsel; we’d had a bottle of very quaffable Lebanese wine between us, two bottles of Beirut beerand later, two mint teas and a coffee, yet the entire cost of this meal was £75 for four, not including service charge? In Central London? In one of the best restaurants I’ve eaten in in a long time? Completely different and much simpler, of course, but, if you ask me, in terms of food and service on a par with any top UK Michelin restaurant you wish to mention? A mere £20 per head? Hello? Frankly, I’m head over heels in love with Maramia. For me, it’s right up there in my personal top three for the best food in London, alongside Sukho in Fulham and Sexy Fish in Berkeley Square. A pleasure not to be missed! If only Dave and his Government would offer us quite such value for money.
48 Golborne Road, London W10 5PR.
Tel.: 0203 181 0030 www.maramia.com
What I wore
My favourite pair of dark denim Zu Elements skinny jeans bought in Ventimiglia, Italy, some years ago with an oxblood/brown reversible Hermes belt, my beloved beige cashmere polo neck from Joseph, an Armani Jeans checked tweed jacket, flat tan/oxblood boots from Blue Velvet on the Kings Road and a dark brown Amazon Mulberry bag.
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Kia aka Fizz of Life