Game with a Middle-Eastern twist

Shopping. Love it or hate it, sometimes you have to brace yourself and get on with it, especially in the run-up to Christmas.

Personally I’m not a hobby shopper and one of the only things that makes a day of shopping bearable is the prospect of a delicious lunch.

So last week I was delighted to find an ideal informal lunch spot in the West End in the form of the Middle-Eastern inspired Le Bab restaurant.

It is tucked away on the top floor of Kingley Court, an atrium full of restaurants just off Carnaby Street

Buzz

I arrived to find a room full of buzz and office workers enjoying a lunchtime break. Seating is relatively casual, but comfortable, on wooden tables and with a view of the open kitchen beyond where everything is cooked over charcoal and wood.

We went during British Game Week and the week’s specials were up on the wall. We chose crispy partridge legs as a starter and Brussels sprouts (which we saw a neighbouring diner having and liked the look of). The sprouts arrived with an anchovy, mayonnaise and tahini dip and bore no resemblance whatsoever to soggy Christmas offerings.

 

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Pheasant makes amazing shawarma. Who knew? This glorious kebab is on for British Game Week in collaboration with @britishgamealliance who have been amazing in supporting our development of some very special game dishes on the menu this week. A shawarma of pheasant breast & thigh, served with pickled endive and chilli, date purée, nutmeg mayo and crushed celeriac. If this weather has you cold and periodically weeping (like me), this is the kebab for you. It’s warm and generous.

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Next up was a pheasant shawarma with celeriac and nutmeg mayonnaise. (A shawarma is a classic Middle Eastern speciality and basically consists of thinly sliced meat rolled into a large piece of flatbread or pitta that has been heated.) My companion opted for the venison adana with pumpkin hummous, kale, kimchi and lime leaf mayonnaise, a sort of meat kebab cooked on a skewer over an open grill and served with flatbread. We had half each and both were absolutely delectable. Enough for lunch but not so much that you feel like putting your feet up for the rest of the afternoon.

If we’d been drinking  (we weren’t) there was a good choice of wines and craft beers.

Venison adana

Venison adana

Afterwards we chatted to the chef Eric Guaraldi (previously at Le Gavroche so he definitely knows his way around a kitchen) and asked him how British Game Week was going down with the public.

It was encouraging to learn that the game dishes were selling out daily, with the pheasant shawarma proving so popular that it was going to be a permanent addition to the menu. (And turning the public over to game is one of the purposes of British Game Week, so that’s cheering.)

Prior to this Le Bab had never served feathered game to customers but created the Great British Game Week menu after a consultation with the British Game Alliance.

one-pot pheasant recipes

One pot pheasant recipes

Game cookery recipe: A fantastic game cookery recipe using pheasant and an excuse to raid the freezer!

What did I think of Le Bab?

Great food, attentive service. It’s probably a good idea to book ahead as it’s popular,  although the restaurant has a policy of keeping half of its seating for walk-ins.

  • I did find it a bit noisy, so maybe not a place to go if you want to have an in-depth discussion with someone. On the other hand, you could go by yourself and feel completely comfortable eating alone, sitting at the window bench, reflecting on your Christmas present list.
  • Definitely a casual restaurant to know about.
  • Try the pheasant shawarma and the Brussels sprouts

Price: About £30 a head for two courses, with drinks.