Published on November 4th, 2015 | by Gavin0
Summary: Alexandrian restaurant owned by one of the friendliest men I've ever met
The hustle and bustle of London life isn’t for everyone; whether it’s squeezing onto a packed tube with someone’s armpit in your face or getting shoulder barged by a suit running late for their 8:45 meeting, it’s something Londoners have come to expect as the norm and we don’t bat an eyelid. But what if I offered you the chance to get away from it all for a few hours? Being whisked away to a land far, far away where the stresses of London living simply melt away. Too good to be true you say? Well that’s exactly what happened when I visited Aladino’s, Kensington’s latest Mediterranean delight.
About ten minutes’ walk from Notting Hill Gate Station, Aladino’s is off the beaten track without a tourist or business suit in sight. In fact, it’s so quiet that I consult Google Maps one last time to make sure I’m on the right path and once I eventually find it, the restaurant is just as tranquil. Despite seating up to 50 guests, only us and another party are dining on a Friday evening, what a refreshing change to my usual Soho Friday night haunts.
I am however slightly nervous as to why it’s so quiet- is the food really that bad? Snooty waiting staff? It certainly isn’t the décor because I’ve fallen in love with the minimalistic design surrounding a decadent chandelier centrepiece- it’s clear plenty of thought has gone into the design.
And neither could it be the service, as we are greeted with hugs and kisses (literally) by owner Aladin Barakat, an Alexandrian restaurateur that has created some of the most famous dining venues in Egypt and has now turned his attention to London. It’s obvious that making people happy is his passion; he proudly informs me that it’s his personal goal to learn the name of every guest that walks through his door. In all my years dining at the finest restaurants my city has to offer, I’ve never felt so welcomed by an owner. In fact, we are talking so long that its 90 minutes before I even look at the menu!
Aladino’s isn’t strictly Egyptian cuisine, they describe it as Mediterranean with an Egyptian Twist, and so although you can find staples such as stuffed peppers and aubergine on the menu, they don’t take centre stage. In fact, compared to many Middle Eastern style restaurants I’ve visited, the menu is extremely limited with only eight mains to choose from.
With Alexandria being a coastal city, the seafood contingent is strong, so I order the king prawns (£10). Being the passionate man he is, I’m not surprised that Aladin’s prawns come beautifully presented on a pillow of fennel and lettuce. They taste just as good too, fried in a light crispy coating and complimented by a sticky bois boudran sauce. However special mention has to be reserved for the mussels (£10). Cooked in Aladino’s savoury sauce, these really are special and a dream for any shellfish fan, a must try!
Carrying on the fruits de mer theme, my guest opts for the sea trout on a bed of prawns (£18). It was certainly one of the most unusual fish dishes I’ve ever eaten thanks largely to the spiced beurre blanc giving it a real edge- pleasant enough but I’d probably only order again on special occasions.
I broke from the status quo for my main by ordering the beef fillet (£25). The promise of whisky soaked meat was too much to ignore, but when it came, I didn’t really get much of the smoky characteristics coming through. Saying that though, it was a beautiful slice of beef and I wasn’t complaining as I savoured every tantalising bite.
To finish, we decided on the Egyptian favourite Om Ali (£9), a layered pastry based dish that is best described as a sweet version of lasagne. I’d recommend giving a try if you’re bored of cheesecake and ice cream, but be warned, it is extremely heavy so make sure you’ve saved plenty of room.
By this time it was near enough 11 o’clock and we begin to make our excuses…That was until Aladin cornered us and insisted we stayed for one three more drinks. Believe me, we tried to go, but he simply wasn’t having it. I wasn’t about to complain though because we had a wonderful evening filled with good food and even better company. It’s such a shame I live so far as I’d surely be a regular if I was a West London resident.
And therein lies the problem. Aladino’s is so out of the way that not even the locals know it’s there, because I’m pretty sure anyone that goes once is sure to come back time and time again. I can only hope word spreads quickly because Aladino’s, and Aladin himself, is a star.
Aladino’s, 38C Kensington Church Rd, W8 4BXShare This Post