It’s a bit like those books they give you as a kid to teach you the alphabet, only this time I is for Iraqi, especially the food. The next instalment of our Alphabet Dining quest brought us to Le Chef Masgouf for some good traditional Iraqi eats.
There are pubs all around the area with the one just across the street boasting a considerable amount of outdoor space if the sun is out. Or if you fancy something a little more posh and don’t mind a short walk, Purl is about 10 minutes away or a quick hop on the Bakerloo line.
Now you’re here, what’s to eat?
To be honest, I’m not quite sure what separates Iraqi cuisine from the rest of the middle east beyond the bread being more of a crispy flatbread (delicious by the way) and of course a bit of Turkish influence in the desserts. Still, it was a great trip down memory lane with some foods – the cold meze and the lamb shank in particular – bringing back some great childhood memories of family dinners in the desert.
We started with a mix of hot and cold meze. The hot meze is basically various deep fried items stuffed with meat. Seriously, what’s not to like about that? My favourite was a crispy thick pancake type stuffed with spiced ground meat. No idea what it’s called, but I recommend doing what we did and getting the sampling platter so you get a bit of everything. Cold meze was your standard hummus, moutabal, tabolueh and stuffed vine leaves. All tasty but the hummus and moutabal (smoked egg plant) were my picks and would easily been enough for a happy meal.
Mains were the Kouzi, grilled sea bass, and the daily special which in this case was a chicken biriyani. Kouzi is a slow cooked lamb shank served with rice and a tomato-based sauce. The lamb was succulent and juicy and served in a massive portion though the rice and sauce were more filler than anything tasty. The grilled sea bass was the table favourite with tender flaky flesh and a light spiced seasoning. The fish was beautifully butterflied and a delight to the senses. Sadly the daily special wasn’t special at all with the rice being tasteless and the chicken dry.
How about a drink?
Drinks are your standard fizzy drinks and juices – there aren’t any alcohol options (although you may be able to BYO). You can also get a traditional yoghurt drink but I ‘d suggest trying it before getting it en masse given that it’s quite a tart and heavy concoction.
Worth the dosh?
Yes, without a doubt. A pretty good feast for 5 people came to just under £80 including service. That’s £16pp for some tasty food and they even give you a selection of baklava for free. If you want more dessert, check out Assal just down the road where a selection of traditional Persian sweets for 5-6 people will cost a mere £6, but more on that to come.
Find Le Chef Masgouf here
41 Connaught St
London, W2 2BB