Friday, June 13, 2008

Alounak, Kensington Olympia

We had been planning to go to the outdoor showing of Atonement at The Scoop but forecasts of rain the day before forced us to reevaluate. If it was going to be miserable we'd go for some good food instead. My boyfriend fancied some Middle Eastern fare and I was more than happy to go along with that - the reviews I had read of Alounak had me drooling at my desk...

We rang the night before and booked for 7.30 - what a good job we did. When we arrived three or four other tables were occupied but by 8pm the place was heaving, no point walking in on the off chance. It's BYO, a corkscrew was offered immediately, as were two extra glasses and tap water. A good start. The clay oven at the front tempted us to the taftoon bread with Mast-O-Maasir (yogurt and shallots) and salad Olivieh (a mixture of chicken, onion, egg, dill pickles and mayonnaise, resembling in colour and texture a homemade houmous). My boyfriend was disappointed as he felt the dips lacked flavour but I loved them - they were really subtle and moreish. In the salad you could taste each flavour individually, as well as part of the mixture.

For our main meals we opted to share - baby chicken kebab with rice and loobia polo, Thursday's special - saffron rice, lamb and green beans. The latter dish was divine, the lamb was the best I have ever tasted, huge tender chunks with just a bit of fat, soft fluffy rice and lots of beans. We both agreed it was fabulous. The chicken dish was also good, it was very well marinaded but the pieces were so bony it was fairly hard to eat.

Our plates were cleared and noone came to offer us any drinks or desserts. Forty minutes must have passed before we eventually accosted someone to request the bill. It didn't really matter (we were chatting and finishing our wine) but it didn't reflect the best service and, actually, I might have had some icecream.

Our verdict was that it was tasty but, for us, not one to revisit.

Two courses: £13 per head

Value: 7/10

Service: 5/10

Atmosphere: 7/10

Food: 7/10

SCORE: 26/40

Alounak, 10 Russell Gardens, London, W14 8EZ. Tel: 020 76037645.

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