We arrived just before 9 on a Wednesday night and this cosy and local restaurant wasn’t that busy, only a few tables of people dining. The decor houses a modern Arab world, surrounded by a lot of wooden styling, along with the use of bright neon purple lighting. I liked the Islamic geometric pattern that encased the bar area, it looks really nice. Picture in gallery.

Choices on the menu featured the usual suspects that one would find in a typical Lebanese restaurant and wasn’t over populated or confusing. For starters we ordered the obligatory Tabbule salad, pastry, grilled Halloum and Batata Harra, shared among my family of 5, we are light eaters. The Tabbule lacked punch, it was missing that hit of zest that gives you that kick. The Batata Harra on the other hand was very good, I really liked how it was cooked, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Definitely one of the best I’ve had. For mains, we ordered the mix grill, lamb shish, lamb burger and a half grilled chicken.

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Yes, 4 mains. My mum hardly eats so she grazed off my dad’s plate. The burger was the surprise dish of the night, at under 6 quid with chips, I really impressed with the value and taste of the burger. The patty of the burger was thick, fresh and very tasty. I’d go back just for the burger. I decided to go for some grilled chicken and swapped the rice for chips. Chicken was grilled to a nice crispy texture on the outside and very tender on the inside, I liked the marinate and taste, it was simple and flavoursome. My brother and dad had the grills, i didn’t taste, but my brother said that the lamb was overcooked and judging from the look of them you could tell from the start. It was definitely on the well done side and looked burnt.

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Each dish came with rice or salad, i also have to say that the rice was very good as well, I found it very light and zesty.. It’s rice, but it they did something different for me to take notice. Drinks wise I went for a mocktails on offer and opted for a pint colada and my sister and brother a mojito. Mine was above average, sweet but just a tad too much pineapple. The mijito were a bit bitter and needed to be sweeter, but that’s if I’m being harsh. Mockatils @£5

Service was a interesting one. The staff were very helpful, friendly and pleasant. However, one could tell that they were new. Service was a bit on the inexperienced side, small things like not bringing extra spoons for sharing a dessert or a spoon for the chilli sauce. English wasn’t also the first language for one member of the service team, which meant asking off menu questions was a tad tricky. There was also a small incident with a smoke alarm going off and staff nor being able or knowing fully what to do. But I’d rather have happy clueless service than, a rude waiter who knew what he/she was doing. So i can overlook it and say that it’s a hard world out there and people need to make a living. I dined here using my tastecard, which gave me 50 percent off the food bill, that’s 30 quid. So the bill came to under 10 quid a head. So value was brilliant with a tastecard. However, without the card I still think it’s decent value. This is Gants Hill, Essex after all and I think the only lebanese restaurant around, so I would recommend a visit. Food – 3.5 Value – 4 Service – 3 Atmosphere – 3

Al Souk 36 Woodford Avenue, Gants Hill, London IG2 6XQ

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