Church Street in Kensington, the antique shop road that connects Notting Hill and High Street Ken, is also home to Alexandrie, a quaint little restaurant bringing flavours of Alexandria.
The small venue is bright yet cosy, with an Alexandrian-inspired menu that leaves one both salivating and deliberating over it for some time. While we continually ummed and aahed over the choices, we tantalised our tastebuds with the homemade bread flavoured with hints of za’atar, which we used to mop up the delicious hummus and baba ganoush.
To start, we strayed down the slightly unconventional route with Beetroot-Cured Smoked Salmon and Tiger King Prawns. The latter was deep fried in a clean and crisp light batter – more Southeast Asia than Middle East. The texture was spot on and the taste of the prawns were wonderful, especially nice when paired with the excellent Bois Boudran sauce. The salmon, meanwhile, looked exquisite on the plate, its accompaniments of charred cucumber, spiced yoghurt and semi-dried tomatoes a nice blend of fusion-style ingredients.
Molokheya is a traditional Egyptian soup, very rich in flavour and vibrant in its colour. This was the partner dish to the Poussin – a grilled baby chicken marinated in Arabic spices. There was a lovely and light crunch to the skin, nicely balanced with the juiciness of the meat. On a small bed of rice it was the perfect amount to leave one feeling full, but not bloated.
My plus one for the day opted for the Mahshi Courgettes, a very traditional Arabic dish; courgettes stuffed with spiced minced beef and rice. In a word – lovely. Already a favourite; no wonder it’s such an Alexandrian classic.
The Pistachio and Burnt-Orange Paste Baklava was very festive in taste, appropriate for the time of year. Like an Arabic mince pie. Om Ali, on the other hand, was a dessert unfamiliar to us, and yet it comes with not one but two ancient tales based on how it was founded. It’s a warming and comforting winter dessert; filo pastry baked in cream topped off with baked almond flakes. Hard to finish if you’ve already had a hearty lunch main, though.
It’s a good time to visit Alexandrie as they’ve recently undergone some exciting changes. A new look, a fresh menu and so many delicacies to choose from, the land of the Pharaohs is suddenly a lot closer to home.
For more information, visit www.alexandrie.co.uk