An exciting new Lebanese restaurant has popped up at the InterContinental London Park Lane. Najma (meaning ‘star’ in Arabic) champions the region’s flavoursome food, an underrepresented cuisine in London when it comes to luxury offerings. Najma is around until at least January 2024 and hopefully much longer.
Lebanese music plays in the background whilst we check out the menu. The menu takes inspiration from Georges Rahme, the Lebanese chef based in IHG Hotels and Resorts in Dubai’s Festival City, and features proper Lebanese hot and cold mezzeh, signature plates and desserts. Looking at the menu, it is rather cutely laid out with the Arabic headings in English so you can practice your Arabic as well.
Expect to be taken on a gastronomic journey that starts with hot and cold mezzeh such as Lamb merguez, Spiced beef with hummus and Labneh. Follow with salads of Taboulleh, Fattouche of Salatit arnabit with golden cauliflower, king prawns, coriander cress, tahini and pomegranate seeds. Tabboulleh sounds so simple but is actually one of the hardest dishes to perfect as it needs precise preparation. A careful combination of parsley, mint, spring onions, tomatoes and bulgur makes a great mouthful and goes with most dishes.
A lot of Lebanese dishes are vegan without intent. The Lebanese way of eating offers huge variety and recipes are handed down through generations. A favourite was the Batata Harrah. This is a Lebanese crowd-pleaser and Lebanon’s tribute to potatoes. These were the crispiest fried potatoes cut into cubes with garlic, lemon, paprika and coriander. Each little bite was a celebration of Lebanon. Very clever and a total star dish.
The main event features sharing platters of mixed seafood and grilled meats as well as signature plates that include Pan-fried seabass with spinach, chilled tomato dakkous and charred lemon; Grilled lemon sole marinated with lemon, chilli and garlic, wilted greens and sumac beurre blanc; and Chargrilled lamb chops with slow-cooked tomatoes and crispy fried potatoes. If you can’t decide what to try, there is an offer that gives you a chance to try a little bit of everything. A set menu for two comes with four mezzeh, two salads, a mixed grill platter laden with lamb chops, beef kofta, chicken wings and skewers, served with chilli garlic aioli, wild rice and baklava.
No Lebanese feast is complete without savoury pastries. Popular in various versions throughout the Middle East, these savoury stuffed pies are a key part of any Lebanese household and are always available for snacking at all hours. At Najma, a must-try is a mankoush cheese and zaatar – freshly baked bread with cheese and herbs. Sambousek lamb is a crispy pastry stuffed with minced lamb and pine nuts and comes with tahini sauce. The ultimate favourite is certainly a fatayer filled with spinach.
Round the menu off with delicious desserts including Maamoul, a buttery soft biscuit filled with crème anglaise and pistachio ice cream; a Traditional Osmalieh with rose-infused roasted vermicelli and vanilla Chantilly cream; or assorted Baklava.
The drinks list puts the spotlight on zero-proof cocktails, beers and wines, with mocktails such as Mango Colada with pineapple, coconut and mango; Paloma with Pentire Seaward, agave, lime juice, grapefruit juice, Fever-Tree soda and sea salt; and Amaretti Sour with Lyre’s amaretti, lemon juice and vegan foamer, running alongside alcohol-free sparkling wine and no and low beer. A selection of Lebanese and international wines are also available including a punchy Chateau Musar Jeune 2020.
We really hope this pop-up will be here for many years to come. Proper authentic Lebanese food in the heart of Mayfair.
To discover more, visit: parklane.intercontinental.com/najma-lebanon
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All imagery courtesy of Intercontinental Park Lane / Najma London.