> Features

Middle East to West London Feast: Review of Greg Malouf at The Imperial, Chelsea

Middle East to West London Feast: Review of Greg Malouf at The Imperial, Chelsea

by Eliot Collins 17 August 2015

Eliot Collins samples the delights of pioneer and champion of Middle Eastern cuisine, Greg Malouf, at a one-off residency in Chelsea.

Eliot is Chef Partnership Manager at Great British Chefs.

Middle Eastern and North African cuisine has well and truly been pinned on the culinary map recently. Alongside the few big names that I don’t need to mention, there is one Australian-born, Lebanese magician who has walked around more ancient towns and cities than most of us, and sits high above the current trend that has been sweeping Western cities.

The passion, desire and commitment from Chef Gregory Malouf to discover what this part of the world has to offer has led to the publication of seven cookery books and multiple successful restaurants, with his latest residency at Clé in Dubai. He has brought to Australia, the UK and most recently Dubai, his interpretation of Middle Eastern food so we can stop frowning and shrugging at ingredients such as freekeh, barberries, sumac, urfa, za’atar, orange blossom, ras el hanout and many, many more. Instead this chef’s approach has allowed us to embrace the exotic gastronomy of the East.

In a small but massively beautiful pub on The King’s Road, thanks to a one-off residency, I was treated to a feast that moved the senses to the East and beyond. If any lucky travellers or Australians had the chance to eat at Momo (Melbourne, Australia 2000-2012) you may be familiar with the finesse and flavour that Malouf brings to the table.

Roasted giant gulf prawns
Roasted giant gulf prawns
Chicken and date fatayer with pomegranate
Chicken and date fatayer with pomegranate
Most notable was the size of the Roasted giant gulf prawns which looked liked they’d been as well fed as I felt by the end of the evening.

We were far from the Victorian capital, but The Imperial in Chelsea was a more than suitable location for the midweek 50 seat dinner service that was buzzing with intrigue and delight. Now if you know anything about Middle-Eastern fayre, you are aware of the generosity, not only in hospitality, but in portion size. It brought back memories of a 21st birthday celebration in Sydney when we celebrated in true style, chowing down on a homemade feast created by the wonderful Lebanese family cooks for the army of hungry young, slightly tipsy footballers. It was truly magnificent!

This evening was slightly more elegant, the voyage beginning with Malouf’s Mezze, a well-put together selection of snacks and starters. Most notable was the size of the Roasted giant gulf prawns which looked liked they’d been as well fed as I felt by the end of the evening. Served with chermoula and feta cream, these large crustaceans can be cooked pink and were indeed tender and mouth-wateringly good. Add the perfect hummus with beef and onions, stuffed Kousa (courgette), Salmon Kibbeh and chicken fatayer, and we were well and truly on our way to flavour country.

The mezze sounded like a lot on paper, but it was even more on table! We were full, but happy to take our time and embrace the next plate – a main course of meaty sea bass fillets, perfectly cooked with sweet onions, lime and barberries, the small, sweet, sour berries that are Iran’s answer to currants. It balanced the dish very nicely and the sharpness brought our taste buds to life ready for the deeply flavoured pink lamb cutlets that followed.

Salmon kibbeh nayee in saj bread
Salmon kibbeh nayee in saj bread
Meringues, lemon posset, black figs and pine nut praline
Meringues, lemon posset, black figs and pine nut praline

I sometimes get criticised for 'finding another stomach' for dessert, but in my defence it’s just that our palates are often ready for a sweet, sticky change after the savoury story we’ve just read with gluttonous eyes. Sweet and sticky indeed is what arrived at the table – chewy meringue, lemon posset, black figs and pine nut praline – amazing! The end to the story was superbly ripe watermelon with halawa, this variety being a classic buttery sesame Arabic version that worked insanely well with the hint of rosewater that was splashed over the melon.

We rolled out and over to Greg to say our final thank yous. It was a pleasure to see him again, a master of his trade and incredibly knowledgeable on the vast cuisines of the Arabic world. I’m looking forward to his next visit to London, but for now, I’ll cook from his books and maybe even hop on a plane to Dubai to his new restaurant – we can be sure that Malouf’s presence will add another jewel to this oasis in the desert.

Other Middle Eastern restaurants in London worth a visit – Palomar, Honey and Co., Arabica bar and kitchen, Berber and Q, and Comptoir Libanais.

 
 
 

Want our most popular features delivered to your inbox?

Sign up to our newsletter now and we'll send you a hand-picked round-up of the best features and recipes from across Great British Chefs each week.

Thanks for subscribing

We'll only contact you around once per week with our best features and seasonal recipes. You can unsubscribe at any time.

 

Comments ()

Middle East to West London Feast: Review of Greg Malouf at The Imperial, Chelsea

 
Order by
...   ...

(Editing)

>

This comment was edited

Please enter text

Comments must be less than characters

This comment has been deleted

Report this comment

Please state your report in the space below

Please enter text

Reports must be less than 750 characters

loading

>

Please enter text

Comments must be less than characters

(Editing)

>

This comment was edited

Please enter text

Comments must be less than characters

This comment has been deleted

Report this comment

Please state your report in the space below

Please enter text

Reports must be less than 750 characters

loading

>

Please enter text

Comments must be less than characters

Be the first to leave a comment on this page...
...   ...