“Kenza” – Aladdin’s Middle Eastern Cave @ Liverpool St.

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Word of mouth assured me Kenza (“treasure” in Arabic) was a compendium of entertaining and charming dinning treats. My father was in town and I wanted to impress his Welsh country bum palate with London’s global feasting – there was little disappointment.

Five minutes from Liverpool Street Station a seductive candle lit doorway entices you into the unknown. A seeming never-ending spiral staircase decorated with rose petals, floating candles and lanterns embarks you on a beautifully themed Middle Eastern journey. The décor resembles how Aladdin’s world looks in a child’s imagination. Booths, low lighting and satin cushions make the restaurant feel like the comfiest home ever.

It was a Monday evening and the restaurant was relaxed. We were ushered to our table by a warm smiling hostess and left to adapt in our Lebanese Cave. A gracious waitress sat down next to us on a neighbouring table and introduced herself in an assuring style. For me, the personal effect given when a server takes a pew next to you is great. It’s not lazy; try doing their job.

The menu prominently comprises of set menus for two or more but A La Carte is also an option. Beer was the liquid for the night; choices weren’t captivating – Efes Pilsner being the only available option. A few local London brews or a Sierra Nevada would have spiced things up. There was an extensive and original cocktail list featuring fresh and fruity Champagne cocktails but at £10.95 and not being at the top of the neighboring Heron tower, seemed ludicrous.

We opted for the set menu at £35.50 per head, providing exactly what one desires in a Middle Eastern restaurant. A selection of cold and hot mezze’s: Hummus, Baba ghannouj, pitta, fresh mint salad and chicken and lamb pastries. Yum. Mains: Grilled selection of lamb and chicken, Shish Taouk and Kafte. I’ll drink to that. Forget dessert. I knew from the first sight of the mezze I wouldn’t make fresh fruit, Baklava and Turkish Delight. The waitress informed us prior to choosing that dessert can be doggy bagged, obviously a regular occurrence.

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Two thumbs up to the food… the meat tasted fresh and tender, and was flavored with spices, founding the unique and exotic tangs of Middle Eastern cooking. The meal was concluded with a theatrically poured Turkish delight mulled fresh mint tea. I loathe Turkish delight but was pleasantly surprised at the subtle hints in this digestive.

There will definitely be a return journey to Kenza’s Lebanese cave, to be further entertained by the ambience and rich spices. The music was annoying. Moaning covers of epic rock songs. And the bill came to over £100 – a lot for the type of food. Then again, we were taken on a fantasy trip into the Middle East.

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Taste: 7

Atmosphere: 7.5

Drinks: 6.5

Staff: 7

Value for Money: 6.5

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