Yalla Yalla, 1 Green’s Court, Soho
Here comes another restaurant review. I might be trying other people’s food more than trying to make my own lately, but in my defence, the kitchen has been ripped out. In fact, the parts that once made up the kitchen are all now sitting in the living room. Look:
A good excuse to get out into London Town and try another new-ish restaurant. Mine and my cousin’s brief was a common one: cool, central and cheap. A quick Google of London’s best cheap eats had Yalla Yalla‘s name popping up left, right and centre. This place seemed to have it all. Beirut street food: cool. Prices that start at at a few quid for mezze dishes to share: pretty cheap. Located down a little alley way next to a tattoo parlour and a sex shop: so Soho, innit.
Like most of the “hip n happening” new rezzies opening up in London at the mo, Yalla Yalla has a no-reservations policy, and we’d been told, pre-visit, that the queues can get looong. Fortunately, Alice and I made it in time (about 6.45 pm) to bag an outdoor table on the cobbles. The interior is cute – seven or eight tables, some mini banquets, silky cushions, black and white wallpaper, yellow lamps, chalk boards with the food on, smiley staff – but we weren’t sad to be outside. It was warm and the contrast between respectable restaurant and seedy alley way made us feel “well edgy” for a couple of hours.
The mains list is stuffed with big, juicy lamb and chicken dishes for carnivores, such as slow-cooked lamb shoulder casserole and the mixed grill; lots of fish for the pescies, such as chargrilled seabass fillet with lemony rice, and more than enough for proper-veggies too, such as the tasty-looking vegetable moussakaa. However, A and I decided to go for several mezze dishes to share. We went for: hummus, of course; batata harra – spicy sauteed potatoes with garlic, red pepper and chilli; the halloum meshoue – halloumi with tomatoes and black olives; and the makale samak – deep fried tiger prawns, calamari and white bait with aubergine, spring onions and minty yoghurt.
We also went for a bottle of white wine which arrived with a complimentary bowl of olives and pickles. As we nibbled and nattered, watched people sneaking into the adult shop and surveyed the queue outside the eatery lengthen, we wondered whether we might have under-ordered. But no, once our nosh turned up, we realised that four dishes, between us two females, on a Thursday night, was just right.
We both loved the pitta dipped into the smooth creamy hummus – but we wouldn’t have minded a bit more. You get your first basket of pitta ‘free’ with your hummus, by the way, but it’s £1 for each extra basket after that. The spicy potatoes were pretty yum; the bowl of fried fish – dotted with shiny pomegranate seeds – was really good, particularly the deep-fried prawns, but there was quite a lot of the white bait left over. White bait: the most pointless of fish? The star of the evening was the halloumi. Not so much slim-cut slithers as pocket-sprung mattresses of the stuff. Thick, firm, bouncy and perfectly squeaky, sur le tooth. Mmmm…
We finished up with a fresh mint tea and a full fat latte, and with tip on top, we spent 23 quid each. One to Yalla about. (Oh that didn’t really work.) Oh, and we went to the original Yalla Yalla, but two more sites have sprouted in London recently – and there’s a pop-up on the Southbank. The end.