Maroush have recently opened a new concept restaurant in Earls Court – the Maroush Bakehouse. As if plucked straight out of the centre of a Lebanese town, here
is a place that is a mix of coffee bar front with working bread ovens at the back. You can enjoy traditional Lebonese Khobez bread, savoury and sweet pastries that are expertly created on site and served to eat in or take away, along side a range of artisan breads, as well as fabulous Lebanese mezze, soups, salads, grills, stews and deserts. In fact there are 25 varieties of breads baked on the premises, all of which are available to try, although most are packaged and shipped out to other shops and hotels across London. I just came for lunch.
The front of the Bakehouse looks smart and upmarket, but on entering you are greeted by a much more casual and relaxed ‘cafe’ environment. The smell of freshly baked bread fills the nostrils, as the aroma of coffee from the large coffee maker pulls your senses in other directions. Friendly staff great you and usher you to a table.
The Bakehouse isn’t big – 26 seats over 9 tables, but it feels roomy and spacious, and ever so much like a real Lebanese street cafe. The menu is extensive, and reflects a complete selection of Lebanese food. rather than pick individual dishes I decided to let the Bakehouse decide for me, so I ordered the Business Lunch Platter at £15. This offered a combination of hommos, moutabal, tabbouleh, falfel, kibbeh, fatayer, and two skewers from the grill, one chicken, one lamb. Upon ordering, I was told there would be a few minutes waiting for the grill as all meat was cooked fresh. Reassuring.
When it arrived the scent of lemon and mint on the tabbouleh was very refreshing, along with the steaming skewers of meat. The hommos was delicate and not overly strong and actually brought out the taste of the bread, an assortment of which was provided in a basket. The lamb was perfectly cooked, succulent without any fat, and the chicken was cooked though enough to still have its flavour without falling apart on the skewer. Both were enjoyed wrapped in the Khobez bread with a dab of the tabbouleh and the flavours really worked. The background aroma of the baking bread, as well as a few tables of Lebanese locals chatting in their local tongue really helped add to atmosphere.
The biggest shock in the Maroush Bakehouse is the lack of beer or wine – they don’t have a drinks licence yet. I should have guessed from reading the board outside before I entered (see pic at bottom) This is a shame, because the nature of the skewers and breads is sufficiently dry that you need something to handle your thirst and compliment the food. A good Lebanese beer would have been ideal, or even a bottle of Lebanon Chateau Musar. Fortunately there is an off licence opposite the Bakehouse so next time I visit I will sort the drinks out first. I had the Lebanese coffee with my lunch, but I think many would find this a bit heavy going. On reflection, an sparkling water may have been a better choice.
The lunch menu gives you more than enough food for a good lunch, but if you wanted more from a set menu you could choose a two or three course lunch at £20 or £22 a head.
The Maroush Bakehouse is also a production centre for Lebanese and artisan breads; hard to miss this as there is a production line with many men making and packing bread behind a large glass screen at the back of the restaurant. All the bread served with the meal is freshly baked, as are the range of bread loaves, buns, doughs and brioche, each for sale around the restarurant. Some, like Fig and Rosemary, just cry out to be tried alongside a good cheese or a bowl of oil and olives. you could try a different bread every day and still not have tried them all at the end of a month.
The Maroush Bakehouse is exactly what you could want for a good meal. Informal, friendly, full of atmoshpere, incredibly homely with the smell of baking bread and black coffee. It is unrushed, but doen’t mind if you need to hurry, so I would recommend it to anyone, and will definitely be there again when I am in Earls Court. And I will remeber to pick up a Lebanese beer from the off licence across the road beforehand.
Maroush Bakehouse Earl’s Court
131 Earls Court Road, London SW5 9RQ
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