Newly opened Maison Libanaise in Soho serves a feast from the Middle East
Nice decor, good service and food that needs a few tweaks in bustling Lebanese restaurant
There was shock and sadness when news of Life Café closing became public in November. The restaurant had been there for 11 years, sating the palates of vegetarians, vegans and flexitarians.
But in its place is Maison Libanaise, a vibrant new spot with a similar lively, bustling atmosphere, opened by Black Sheep Restaurants.
The ground floor space is where customers can order take-away, and at around 8.30pm on a weekday there were a number of people waiting for their food. There is a small dining area upstairs with a beautiful tiled floor, bottles of wine on shelves against the walls and an open kitchen.
When we visited we were told the menu was limited for the soft opening. The dishes are in small portions and are moderately priced and service is friendly and helpful.
The hummus (HK$48) with olive oil and sumac was smooth and could have had a touch more lemon juice, but it was delicious with the home-made pita bread (HK$18). You’d have to search to find the cracked wheat in the tabbouleh (HK$58), which had a much larger ratio of coriander to parsley and tomatoes.
We were looking forward to the almond falafel (HK$68), but they were too hard to eat, perhaps because the deep-fried balls were quite small. Nevertheless, we liked the accompanying pickled vegetables and tahini yoghurt.
Our favourite dish of the evening was the pan-fried haloumi (HK$78), presented in a small skillet. The cheese was sweet thanks to the sliced dates on top, but that balanced the saltiness.
Shish taouk (grilled chicken skewers, HK$98) were a little dry but fine with the mint and cucumber sauce.
We also tried the daily lemonade (HK$48) – one with orange blossom, the other with mint. The former was more tart than we liked, and we made a comment to the staff who took the drinks off the bill. It was surprising to find the drinks served in plastic cups with straws, while water was served in glasses.
The third floor has an outdoor space and it’s already kitted out with a canvas covering and strung with lights. Surely it’ll be party central there once the warm weather returns.
Maison Libanaise 10 Shelley Street, SoHo, tel: 2111 2284