It is somewhat intimating and exhilarating when you meet Lebanese restaurateur Emilio Malik, who owns Lazeez. There are few restaurant owners who can match his passion for the catering business and it is a fascinating insight into the development of Lebanese cuisine in the UK and where he sees future developments in the industry. However, I wouldn’t spend too much time indulging on social media updates, he is a passionate food lover and prefers you give 100% attention to his chef’s wonderful creations rather than staring at your mobile phones.
They have carried out some minor renovation works to smarten up the restaurant and with a combination of classy black and orange-hued wood panels, their terrace remains as popular as ever especially for shisha lovers. Also, their interior designers must be commended for picking the orange hue, as it supposedly promotes one’s appetite.
You are highly recommended to go hungry before arriving to sample more of their tapas dishes on their extensive menu. Lazeez is one of the most vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants you will find in the West End. Their salad sections are refreshingly healthy whether you opt for the fattoush, tabbouleh or the spicy Lebanese salad. All the products are picked fresh daily from local markets such as lettuce, tomato, cucumber, mint, onion, radish; whilst all the spices used are imported directly from Lebanon.
Very few dishes needed improvements, the vine leaves had a deliciously citrusy, tart flavour which counteracts the heavier dishes although the rice inside was overcooked. Motabaal, which is a dip made from grilled aubergine and tahini was just divine having been freshly grounded just before arriving at our table. Whilst I am not a massive fan of potatoes, their patata harra was fried and had just the right degree of spiciness and topped with coriander, chilli and lemon sauce and made for an extremely appetising dish.
The menu might say 3 to 4 dishes per person, but I recommend probably 2-3 especially if you order filling dishes like the hummus chicken shawarma with large pieces of grilled chicken surrounded with a heavy dose of hummus. Soujok, their spicy sausages were very well executed to the point, I was tempted to ask Emilio for a supply of their Lebanese spices. In fact, it’s not unknown for customers to ask for a takeaway of their selection of sauces to complement their home cooking.
Emilio is a very hospitable host and insisted we tried some traditional Lebanese beer along with the fruit sundae as the correct way to enjoy a Lebanese feast. Sometimes, you do wish there were most old-school restaurant owners in London who exhibit so much passion for their work.