Restaurant Review: Ô Gourmet Libanais, Battersea in London
There has been a noticeable upturn in the popularity of Lebanese cuisine across the capital and country in recent years, and for good reason.
Like the geographic region Lebanon inhabits, which is a complex network of intertwining cultures, so too does the nation’s food draw provenance and inspiration from all over the Middle East.
Its emphasis on fresh herbs and vegetables certainly makes it a lighter proposition than some other cuisines which can sit a bit heavier in one’s gut.
The latest addition to London’s thriving Lebanese scene has just opened its doors on the upmarket riverside development of Battersea Reach, where contemporary new apartments and offices overlook the Thames across the water from Chelsea.
Ô Gourmet Libanais predicates itself on purveying truly authentic food, in a setting reflecting the ambience of a warm and inviting home in a Lebanese village.
To that end the restaurant’s bread and bakery items are baked to order in a speciality oven that forms the venue’s centrepiece, while colourful lightshades hanging from the ceiling recall the kind you’d find in a middle eastern souk.
As for the food itself, during my visit I sampled a spread of colourful hot and cold mezze, including a rich, textured homemade hummus, fresh vine leaves filled with rice and herbs, and marinated chicken livers flambéed in lemon and pomegranate molasses. These delicate dishes complemented each other perfectly and were further enhanced by the pairing of a delightful rosé wine from the south of Lebanon.
For my main I enjoyed a delectable charcoal-roasted baby chicken served with a light garlic dip, which I controversially chose to pair with a red Lebanese wine this time, which duly rose to the challenge.
The meal was concluded with a ‘mohallabieh’ – a sweet milk pudding served in a small kilner jar, which rounded it off perfectly as again it wasn’t too stodgy or heavy so I didn’t feel too bloated by the time the mint tea was served.
I found out that many of Ô Gourmet’s dishes cater specifically to coeliacs and vegetarians, both of whom can often feel disregarded by restaurant menus, especially ones like Lebanese where breads and meats feature significantly. There is also stylish outdoor terrace here, currently sat forlorn in the winter chilliness but which will be a welcome addition once the warmer months roll around again.
So I look forward to returning the next time I’m in this part of south-west London next year as there really isn’t a better Lebanese restaurant in the area, although the more word gets out about it, this hidden riverside gem could soon prove difficult to get a table at so pay them a visit while you can.
Address: Unit D, Trafalgar House, Juniper Drive, London SW18 1GY. ogourmetlibanais.co.uk