Monday, January 23, 2012

Mamounia Lounge, Knightsbridge: Groupon is Actually Useful

Mamounia Lounge in Knightsbridge
Menu at Mamounia Lounge in Knightsbridge
Kibbeh at Mamounia Lounge in Knightsbridge
Mango Salad at Mamounia Lounge in Knightsbridge
Bourek at Mamounia Lounge in Knightsbridge
Fattouch at Mamounia Lounge in Knightsbridge
Emile Henry Tagine at Mamounia Lounge in Knightsbridge
Lamb Tagine at Mamounia Lounge in Knightsbridge
Chicken Tagine at Mamounia Lounge in Knightsbridge
Lamb Meshwegeh at Mamounia Lounge in Knightsbridge
Lamb Tagine at Mamounia Lounge in Knightsbridge
Dessert at Mamounia Lounge in Knightsbridge
Tea at Mamounia Lounge in Knightsbridge
For about two years now I have been subscribed to Groupon, the hugely popular service that in essence spams you 90 times a day with so called "deals". Until now I have never actually bought any of the deals. Call me crazy but I haven't really needed pedicures from fish, or all-inclusive holidays that seem to cost more than if I were to purchase them on my own with some good research. However, just as I was about to cancel the "service" I got a gem of a deal from them; a meal for two at one of the best restaurants, apparently, in London, Mamounia Lounge in Knightsbridge. RIGHT in Knightsbridge. This beautiful restaurant is directly across the street from Harrods. Well, not directly across the street, take it easy Google Map junkies, it's about 200 yards past it. But you can see it from the restaurant.

The restaurant itself is magical inside. It really looks the part. There are gold decorations adorning every wall and everything has the Mamounia logo embroidered, or carved into all the surfaces. It must of cost a fortune to decorate it. But it's well worth it. It was a bitterly cold day in London and even though we were sitting at the furthest table from the window, except for the upstairs tables which were closed until dinner, we nearly lost our lives due to frost bite. However, we were saved less than an hour later when our scrumptious Tagines arrived and warmed our bellies. But I'm jumping the gun.

The menu at Mamounia is a vast, complex beast with many items on it that none of us had ever heard of. I loved it. Far too often I'm staring at a menu with all the usual suspects: Pork Belly, Filet of Steak and the not very sexy, Roast Chicken. After fumbling around like amateurs for what seemed like an hour we finally ordered. My Kibbeh, which is Deep Fried Wheat, Stuffed with Lamb, Onion and Pine Nuts was sensational. Simple, clean and very flavorful. The great part about these types of foods is that they're great for sharing. We had several starters on the table including: Fattouch, which is Lettuce, Tomato, Cucumber, Red and Green Peppers, Sliced Radish, Mint Leaves, Mixed with Toasted Lebanese Bread with Lemon and Olive Oil Dressing. We also had Bourek, a very delicate Filo Pastry Casing Stuffed with Vegetables and a Mango Salad, with Pomegranate Seeds, Red Onion, Coriander, Lemon and Olive Oil Dressing. All were incredibly fresh, vibrant and bursting with flavor.

But it was the main courses that really got me excited. Just thinking about them makes me want to hop on the Southern Railway service to Victoria Station and endure that long walk through Sloan Square, Sloan Street and onto Brompton Road. We had: Chicken Tagine with Chicken Leg and Breast with Potatoes, Preserved Lemon and Olives... OMG! A Lamb Tagine with Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder, Served with Prunes, Apricots and Almonds... Drool, Drool, Groan, Groan. And a Lamb Meshwegeh, which is Skewered Medallions of Lamb, Grilled with Baby Onions Marinated with Olive Oil and Lightly Seasoned.

I'm sad to say that this was the first time I'd had that many dishes from those regions. That is, Lebanon and Morocco. I have made numerous Tagines and various other Moroccan dishes, but never had I had the pleasure of trying that many all in one place.

Needless to say, I loved every dish we had at Mamounia. However, without the Groupon discount I'm not sure how many times I'll return. Mains were £19.50 and starters were between £6.50 and £7. It's certainly not the most expensive restaurant in the world but expect to pay at least £30 per person when all is said and done. With the Groupon discount we ended up spending less than £15 a head. Add on some drinks, couscous and rice and it was a bit more. Well worth what we paid, but I'd have to really think about it again to spend £19.50 on something I can very easily make at home.

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