ILILI, LONDON

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I’m going to preface this post by apologising for my lack of activity. I wish I could say that this was the end but I’ve just landed in a new role at my new job so a whole heap of my time and energy is being pumped into that at the minute so writing has had to be put decidedly on the back burner for now.

On the plus side, I have been getting out and about eating and thinking of other places to add to the growing list of destinations on here so when I settle down again over the course of the next week or two I hope to have some really interesting things to talk to you all about.

A little snapshot to keep things ticking over, I popped just up the road this weekend to a Lebanese mezze restaurant, Ilili which is widely hailed in the local area as something of a triumph. They have previously been awarded prizes for their efforts in the local food festival and having enjoyed a good feed there once before I decided to take the boyfriend. This is definitely more up his street as a rule so I hoped it would go down well.

I do tend to lavish almost unadulterated praise on the restaurants or hotels that I write about, and usually that’s because they are standout memories or experiences worthy of the superlatives I throw at them. Ilili probably doesn’t fall into this bracket. The potential is there, when you get the best chef the food is fabulous, but the restaurant is lacking in finesse. The bold frontage is really promising. The striped awning and the colour both intimate a certain style and sharpness. The interior, to be quite honest, is where it all goes slightly to pot. The mismatched chairs just haven’t hit the eclectic vintage vibe but rather look like they may have picked up old family dining sets abandoned around town. The choice of wall art varies from odd to slightly disturbing paintings of faces and the menus are sad little laminated plastic affairs, peeling at the edges.

Details like these aside, they absolutely cannot be faulted for lack of choice. As you’d expect with a mezze or “tapas-esque” offering, lots of little plates is probably the way to go. I can’t vouch for the larger main courses as I’ve not forayed off the beaten track as of yet preferring to stick to little and lots.

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Five of their small plates easily feeds a hungry two people. I would suggest maybe even three more moderate appetites would leave satisfied. Of the dishes I’ve road tested a couple shine as by far and away the best. Soujok, the spicy pan-fried lamb sausage with tomato, was a winner. I would suggest maybe not bothering with the Ilili platter unless you’re in a big group in which case it’s a great sharer. Otherwise just pick one of the hummus variety as an accompaniment. Arayes (minced lamb flatbread), was delicious once, the other time was a very greasy let down so proved something of a lucky dip.

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In conclusion, I’d rate the food as better than the atmosphere and would hate to discourage anyone from visiting. To put it in context, I would imagine I’ll be back at some stage but I won’t be running there tomorrow.

P.S. Something that made up for an average dining experience was the sunset on the walk home… Stunning skies.

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