Meza, 34 Trinity Road, SW17

At the Tooting Bec end of Trinity Road, not the most salubrious part of town, is an absolute gem of a restaurant.Meza is a 15 cover Lebanese restaurant. It started life solely as a takeaway, and you still get a number of people using it as such, but it is now also a restaurant that is full to bursting each night.

I got a table on my second attempt when I called two weeks ahead. First time I tried they were fully booked a week in advance.

There were three of us and we were proudly shown to what they described, with a hint of irony, as the chef’s table. This was a bench table with three stools overlooking the open kitchen and grill.

The service is extremely friendly. Our waitress was full of smiles and everyone beavering away in the kitchen turned to greet us as we took our places at our exclusive table. The dining area is simply decorated, wooden tables and chairs with the odd Middle Eastern ornament or kilim dotted around.

The menu consists of Lebanese small plates such as hummus, halloumi and vine leaves and main courses from the grill. We started with some okra in tomato sauce, tabbouleh, falafel, marinated aubergines and flat bread. We washed this down with a nice Lebanese red. There is not choice of wine (other than red or white) but the house was really very good. The food was super-fresh – we could see it all being made, nothing was out of a packet. It wasn’t at all greasy and was packed full of gentle Middle Eastern spices.

Being on the “chef’s table” we were treated to a couple of tasters. The first of these was feta and spinach filo spring rolls (a say-what-you-see description, I’m sure they have a Lebanese name, but not one that I found out). These little parcels were fantastic, and will definitely be ordered on my next visit.

For the main course we had one lamb kebab and one whole grilled seabass. Again, we saw these being cooked in front of us so were salivating in anticipation well before they arrived. They were both accompanied by salad and pickled vegetables. If there had been any sort of carbohydrate with them I think we’d have passed out through fullness. We nearly finished everything but not quite.

We were then given some honey-soaked sweet things, which were buttery and delicious. Then as our final chef’s treat, what we could only describe as Lebanese shortbread. This was laced with pistachios and the perfect bit of sweetness to round off our meal.

It’s all pretty reasonably priced as well. Our bill came to £60 for the three of us, and that included a bottle and two additional glasses of the Lebanese red. Well worth a visit, but make sure you book. Or if you’re lucky enough to live in the area, go and get yourself a takeaway feast.

meza lebanese