Since St John’s Wood was developed from the early 19th century, its mixture of attractive villas and terraces have always been a highly desirable residential district. Athough mainly residential, St John’s Wood’s close proximity to Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill means it has a steady flow of visitors who often visit the main attractions of the area which include Lord’s Cricket Ground and Abbey Road Studios where the Beatles recorded some of their greatest hits. Outside the studios is probably one of the most famous road crossing in the world which was featured on the band’s Abbey Road album cover.
For all the obvious attractions of the area, I was searching for a more recent attraction, the Yasmeen Lebanese Restaurant. Located in the quiet and attractive Blenheim Terrace, the Yasmeen has only been open for six months but has already built up a reputation for great food and service. It is already an award winner being the Highly Commended Restaurant Of The Year 2015 in the FSB London Business Awards.
The attractive exterior of the restaurant features the Jasmine flower after which the restaurant is named, reflecting the flower’s symbolic importance in many Arabic countries. The interior has been designed to evoke traditional Lebanese design and hospitality, many of the tables are in the light and airy conservatory that opens onto an attractive outside terrace. The friendly and attentive staff were on hand to offer the menu and the extensive wine list which included a good selection of Lebanese wine.
For those unfamiliar with Lebanese cuisine, it is often based on a wide range of small dishes that provide a mixture of colours, flavours, textures and aromas. Lebanese food is considered a very healthy cuisine with many vegetarian options where the freshness and quality of ingredients are vitally important. Chicken and Lamb dishes are often grilled with many dishes flavoured by seasoning of lemon juice, olive oil, herbs, spices and garlic.
The Yasmeen’s well balanced menu reflects traditional Lebanese cuisine with some interesting innovations, to taste a wider range as possible I selected a range of hot and cold hors d’oeuvres. Falafel and Kibbeh can often be a disappointment in some Lebanese establishments, but those produced here were crispy in the outside but moist and full of flavour on the inside. The tasty Sambousek are small pastries with either cheese and meat fillings perfect for dipping into the accompying Hummus. The grilled Halloumi Cheese melted in the mouth with a large salad providing plenty of taste and flavour. Traditional Lebanese flat bread was also provided.
The starters illustrated good things come in small packages, however my fondness for chargrilled Lamb ensured I did not over indulge too much. Lamb is a speciality of Lebanese food and the Yasmeen offers a range of Lamb dishes. The Sharhat Meshwi offered a succelent grilled Fillet of Lamb with accompanying rice, it was cooked to perfection with all the flavour of good quality lamb.
The range of desserts is impressive with traditional Lebanese puddings, fruit and ice cream, however I decided to taste the restaurant’s home-made baklava. Baklava are small layered pastries with almonds, pistachios or pine kernels. Each baklava produced a small explosion of taste as you bite through the layers, this was without doubt the best baklava I had ever eaten.
I have enjoyed some meals at Lebanese restaurants but the Yaseem takes the cuisine to a different level, even the familiar dishes are a surprise for the quality and freshness of flavour. Often the difference between a good restaurant and a outstanding one is attention to detail in the food, service and ambience. Yaseem ticks all the boxes with the added bonus of reasonable prices that offer tremendous value for money. With takeaway and outdoor catering elements to the business, Yaseem offers top quality Lebanese food in the restaurant and within your own home.
If you would like further information or book a table, visit the Yasmeen website here
Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended
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