This family run restaurant is a true local gem. Check it out for irresistible homemade Lebanese food made with love. Owner and head chef, Amoul, holds court and is something of a matriarch to regulars. There’s no doubt she’s well loved, but that’s no surprise as who could resist her traditional mezze like baba ghanouj, fattoush, vine leaves or hearty main courses like chicken livers in pomegranate, seabass in a tahini and chilli sauce and Mousakka. Mouth watering yet? The menu changes daily and you can expect some Western dishes thrown in from time to time. The vibe is relaxed and homely – a far cry from the more well known Lebanese joints on the Edgware road. Little wonder it’s so popular with those in the know.
The ultimate summer hang-out for the young urbanites - this sister restaurant to Summerhouse was made for lazy summer Sundays spent drinking in the sun, punctuated with big, indulgent meals. Come here on a scorching summer’s day for a beautiful view of the Maida Vale canal and modern, pub-style grub; think burgers, salads and big sharing plates. The food is nice but not exceptional, then again you didn’t come here for that; this is simply the best place in London to hang out with a group of friends for booze and burgers in the heat. Book early to avoid disappointment, or turn up and you may be lucky enough to secure one of the few tables they hold back. The chips are a must so forget about the summer diet for one day and indulge.
In the summertime, when the weather is fine good luck getting a table at Summerhouse. It’s little wonder this place is so damn popular of a summer’s evening, it’s hands down one of the nicest spots for outdoor dining in London. Right in the heart of Little Venice, you can almost pretend you’re not right round the corner from Paddington and it’s possible to drift away to a rustic idyl on one of the nearby house boats. But we digress, in a nutshell, this is a great spot for knocking back rose over a leisurely meal. The food itself won’t knock your socks off, though the fish-centric menu is done tolerably well. You’re here for the atmosphere anyway, soak it up and stop complaining.
Drab resto in the basement of an old man’s pub off Edgeware road has zero style and zero atmosphere, but serves up some of the most authentic Thai food in central London. Be warned, it’s not a place to go when you’re after staple green curry on rice, or a staple experience. In the evening the karaoke often comes out, so don’t be surprised if the table next to you suddenly breaks into song. If you can ignore all this, the food will transport you. Get any of the zingy papaya salads topped up with street-style snacks like meatballs and Thai sausages or Kra pau. For anyone feeling a bit more adventurous the deep fried century eggs are to die for. Don’t be a hero when they ask you about spice levels, this stuff is hot hot hot.
Nestled down a side street in Maida Vale, this chic West London Iranian, is a far more sophisticated affair than the down and dirty joints just a stone’s throw away on Edgware Road, with prices to match. Not that the steady stream of wealthy locals (and their wives) seem to mind and we don’t blame them because the punchy flavoring in the food is worth the extra cost. Pomegranate is a running theme here; find juicy nuggets nestled in salads, drizzled over stews and delicately sprinkled on meat adding a crunch and a quick burst of sweetness. The dining room is relaxed and always packed with locals gossiping over wine and the restaurant’s much loved stews. We’re particularly fond of the Fessenjan Gharghavol (pheasant with crushed walnuts and pomegranate) – delicious and unusual. Don’t get carried away though – the home-made ice cream’s renowned throughout Maida Vale.
This dinky, family-run Iranian on Edgware Road ain’t much to look at, but don’t mistake low key for poor quality. Ignore the flashier shisha shops at the top of the road and you won’t be disappointed. Just one look at the bloke turning out fluffy piles of freshly made bread from a special oven up front should tell you that. The restaurant has been owned by the same family for 15 years and the decor’s getting a bit rough round the edges, but the friendly service and decent prices more than make up for it. Try the Mirza Ghassemi, a traditional hot aubergine, egg, tomato and garlic dip and don’t miss out on the grilled meat platters. The crowning glory of course is the freshly made bread; light, fluffy and lip-smackingly good. Friday and Saturday nights are always fun with live music in the back room (which can be hired for functions) and shisha pipes in the back garden. The BYOB policy with no corkeage charge is a sure winner and keeps the locals flocking back for more.
This place is a favourite with London’s Chinese diaspora, even if the décor is a bit weird and it’s in the middle of the most soulless stretch of Paddington imaginable (it’s known as mini Canary Wharf for god’s sake). It’s in a basement, so obviously no windows and they’re going for oriental and elegant, but bright purple booths and giant flower frescoes tend towards the garish instead. Let’s focus on the food though people; that’s what we came for! If you’re around for lunch this place serves up some of London’s best dim sum. In fact it’s a veritable dumpling heaven and the prices will beat Royal China’s any day. Outside of dumpling hours, the food can be a bit more hit and miss, though order carefully and dinner is still very solid. Lobster noodles are a must (the head chef was poached from Mandarin Kitchen which is famed for this dish) and the king prawns with salted egg yolk generally require a double order.