Edgware Road is one of the many parts of the City that is rich in ethnic culture. The area is particularly distinctive for it diverse communities from across the Middle East and Africa. Naturally because it is so rich in that culture, the area contains many shawarma and kebab type restaurants. There are so many of them ranging from big establishment to small cafes, all giving Londoners a taste of what the Middle East is all about. But because there are so many, it is hard to know which is worth spending your money on and which is not.
However if you’re crying out for a place that will serve up great, traditional Middle Eastern food and at the same time want to avoid the hustle and bustle and non stop traffic of Edgware Road, then look no further as I have one restaurant in particular that will definitely suit your needs.
The other week I checked out this really stylish restaurant right in the heart of Borough Market.
Arabica, a place that is heavily influenced from the Turkish and Levante area produces fantastic dishes inspired from that region.
Now when it comes to food from that part of the world I think of light, fresh flavours and combinations and Arabica delivers just that.
With its low lighting, relaxed mood, you can be sure to kick back and relax and enjoy the many plates of food on offer.
At such affordable prices, the restaurant creates a whole range of tasty looking dishes from a variety of different cooking methods such as using a clay oven and grilling. The great thing about Arabica is that they have an open kitchen where the chefs cook fresh fish and quality meats.
Just like going to any tapas restaurant, you can pick as many dishes as you like and with so many to choose from it can be tricky (in a good way of course) as practically all of them sound bloody tasty. If you were to go as a large party the choices would probably be so much easier.
On this particular occasion I ordered a mixture of dips, fried, charcoal, clay oven and veg type dishes.
To start with I had a lovely smooth, light homous with a healthy amount of olive oil in the centre. As well as the homous, I also had Moutabel which is basically Babaganoush. Warm homemade flatbread was also accompanied with the dips to help mop up every last bit of them.
I love my fried food ( lets face it who doesn’t) and I’m as sucker for onion rings in particular. These onion rings were gigantic and they were coated in a crispy light batter, finished off with spicy chilli and lemon zest.
As well as the onion rings I had falafels which are perhaps the most recognisable and popular vegetarian food from the Middle East and Arabica make in my opinion the best falafels. They’re crispy on the outside and soft and moist on the inside.
The Cheese & Za’atar Man’ousheh was definitely a firm favourite of mine. It had salty halloumi cheese, subtle sesame flavour and fragrant thyme combined with the sharpness from the sumac. Not one of those components overpowered the other. The balance was spot on.
The meat and fish are an incredible part of what Arabica is all about. The lamb meshwi in particular is a must have with its tender pieces of lamb marinated with mild flavours and spices and with the coarse walnut harissa paste it gives the meat another dimension. As all of you know by now, I’m a big a hater of nuts but the walnut harissa was the perfect partner for the lamb.
As for the mackerel plate, Arabica do it plain and simple. House smoked and finished on the grill with a healthy dollop of homemade saffron mayonnaise. What more do you need?
I had a really enjoyable evening at Arabica. With the food they create and the prices they’re at, you’re really onto a winner and not only that, the staff are incredibly friendly and cater for your every need. So if you’re in the Borough area and more importantly want to discover the lands of the Levant have to offer then this place is definitely worth a visit.