Leila is a family-run Moroccan and Lebanese restaurant located in a quiet, leafy suburban neighbourhood close to Ealing Common.
The first thing that strikes us about the place are the brightly colourful and intricate details and shimmering knick knacks that create a Middle Eastern/North African ambience to match the cuisine.
They have a fairly spacious restaurant with cute little alcoves for a more cozy dining experience, a raised platform best suited for families and larger groups and (my favourite) a conservatory which was warm and inviting in the chilly November temperatures.
We were welcomed by Ash, who recommended some dishes for us. We grazed on a selection of hot and cold Mezze, all washed down with a lovely bottle of Lebanese red.
The starters included:
Lebanese Dip Tasting Platter | Hummus, moutabal, tabouleh, kabis, spiced olives
Pastilla Djaj |Traditional Moroccan chicken filo pastry pie, roasted almond and saffron
Kibbeh Maklieh | Crushed wheat paste stuffed with minced lamb and onions
Sojok | Home-made spicy sausages, tomatoes and parsley
The Kibbeh was ace; the meaty filling had a warming combination of spices (but not overwhelmingly spicy) and deftly seasoned.
The Sojok was glorious; the sausages floating in that gutsy and flavoursome (but not oily) tomato sauce, flecked with fresh herbs. The hummus had that smoky, homespun taste, studded with shimmery pomegranate pearls to add colour, tang and bite. There was a generous basket of pita provided to dunk and mop it all.
I thought the Pastilla Djaj was a stunner in terms of presentation. However, whilst I like my combination of sweet and savoury, I found the sweetness a bit overpowering and the stuffing inside a bit dry too, which is a shame because it really looked promising on the menu.
For me, their Lebanese Platter was the most radiant of the first course. Everything was fresh, good quality, colourful and zesty. The whole ensemble was bursting with notes of verdant, sharp, saltiness and crunch. It really set the tone for the entire meal.
Moving onto mains, we tucked into a sumptuous feast of:
Tagine Bil Lahme | Tender lamb with prunes, roasted almonds and caramelised onions (served with couscous)
Mix Grill | Chicken and lamb, marinated in vinegar, spices, onions and then grilled
I ordered the Mix Grill. First, the good news – the heap of buttery rice, smoky lamb seekh kebab and succulent chicken were all very good. The bad news – the little lamb chunks were dry and chewy. Perhaps it had seen the insides of the grill a bit too long, which was a shame as the flavour was on point.
But oh my god, the Tagine! It was flawless and heavenly. The lamb was very tender and beautifully spiced. The flavours in that were so exemplary that I was annoyed for not ordering it myself and had to watch Kris devour it all. Honestly, the tagine is the star dish here.
On that heavenly note, our pleasant and wonderful meal came to an end but not without some delicious mint tea to round things off.
Leila have recently started a Moroccan inspired Afternoon Tea, which sounds exquisite and I can’t wait to try it.
Kris and I don’t do enough of the Lebanese and Moroccan cuisine in London, which is a shame considering we both love it so much. Perhaps the touristy horrors of Edgware Road from the past still haunt us.
But on a cold, crisp November afternoon, sitting in that warm and cozy conservatory, our shared love for this cuisine was happily rekindled. The food here, whilst not ground-breaking, is hearty, properly-portioned and unpretentious fare that satisfies the foodie soul. A good place for a leisurely, convivial meal with your near and dear ones. Residents of Ealing, you lucky lot!
Thank you Leila for having us!
Location : 5 Grosvenor Parade, Uxbridge Road, Ealing, London, W5 3NN
N.B. Our meal was complimentary but all opinions and photos are mine