RiverTribe Editor Linda Duberley takes a trip along our stretch of the Thames and finds a restaurant full of eastern promise
Whenever I try out a restaurant for my discerning tribe of readers I like to bring someone along along with me who is appropriate to the job in hand and whom I can rely on to bring some strong scrutiny to bear.
So when it came to visiting Mezzet in Hampton Court, I asked my great friend Sally Osman. We met as young journalists on the regional daily newspaper, the Western Mail, so I know I could rely on her to be rigorous in her assessment, and as the former Communications Chief at Buckingham Palace, I felt the royal location was a good fit.
Mezzet is one of the restaurants I have been meaning to properly try for some time. It is owned by a charming and successful man, Fadi Kesserwany, and the brief lunch I enjoyed several months ago at this East Moseley restaurant was a promising start.
It is not always easy getting a date in the diary of one of the UK’s top communications specialists but we finally managed to synchronise our schedules. We set off via the newly re-furbished bar at the Bingham Riverhouse on a recent pleasant Saturday evening. We arrived at Mezzet ready for the full road test.
Fadi runs a very successful establishment. Mezzet, along with its sister restaurant one door down on Hampton Bridge Road, Dar, is already in Selfridges – a real hallmark of its quality and success.
While Dar is mostly Spanish tapas with some Middle Eastern food, Mezzet has a completely Lebanese cuisine. It is without a doubt one of the best restaurants specialising in this region that I have ever visited. I have eaten Middle Eastern food in the Gulf region, in Asia and in the UK. This is right up there in terms of quality and imagination. The staff are a delight.
Sally and I started with cold and hot mezze selections. The cold mezze was exceptional, containing a fig hummus with walnuts, chickpea puree, tahini and pine nuts and muhammara, a hot pepper dip sweetened with pomegranate molasses. The flavours were layered and intense. I think I may have developed an addiction after just one serving.
I decided to go with our friendly and informative waitress’s choice for a main. She recommended sayadieh – seasoned cod fillet topped with a fragrant glaze and crispy onions. It is not a fish I normally choose but was perfect with the aromatic spices. Sally went for moussaka stew, slow-cooked aubergine with chickpea and tomato sauce served with vermicelli rice. She’s a pretty demanding diner but pronounced the dish top-notch.
We washed down the whole meal with some Lebanese wine but there is a broad selection of continental and New World labels. Judging by the all-girl group on the next table, the cocktails are pretty good too.
This is an exceptional restaurant on any level and its location makes it the perfect choice for a summer dinner. Hampton Bridge Road is a charming spot and well worth a quick uber ride from Richmond. I can’t wait to try Dar – at least I know that with such fresh produce I may stand some chance of keeping my weight in check. I will just need to remain focused on the fresh fruit and resist the urge to chow down on the baklava!