Date of Last Visit: Sunday, March 30, 2008
The Victims: Limster, Zuriga
The Damage: £20 each.
The Background: I hang out on the Chowhound boards. Other cities tend to have Chowdowns, or get-togethers of fellow Chowhound'ers. I thought it would be fun to organize a London Chowdown. Howler, one of the main players on the board always speaks highly of Ishbilia, so I thought it would be worth a try.
The Entrance: I've tried to get into Ishbilia before on a Sunday, and I've been denied. So I book way in advance and we get the table for 12. I arrive at 12, and I am the only person there. It's funny, in a sweet way. The server brings me a complimentary coffee while I'm waiting, which is really nice of him.
The Food: Zuriga and Limster arrive and we dig in. Firstly, they bring us a huge plate of veggies which you can see in the main photo. They also bring us some excellent pita bread, hot from the oven and all puffed up. We order an eggplant dish–it's like babaganoush, but it's not–and some broad beans called foul muqala, seasoned with coriander leaves, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. Fantastic.
We also ordered some kibbeh nayeh (raw minced lamb with herbs and onions), a chicken shwarma (pictured) and a fantastic lentil dish. I honestly cannot believe how much I liked the kibbeh nayeh. If I had closed my eyes, I wouldn't have guessed that I was eating raw lamb. It was fantastic.
This was all followed by mint tea and an assortment of Lebanese pastries. I've pretty much died and gone to heaven.
The Verdict: I'm in love. I think this is going into my Top 10.