Celebrated Moroccan chef, Khalid Dahbi, introduces a fresh new take on Moorish cuisine with the launch of his first, permanent London restaurant, Beso, in the heart of Covent Garden, London, and we went along to sample their summer menu.
Beso Restaurant is located on a buzzing, popular spot on the famous Shaftesbury Avenue. It had only been open for a week when I visited. I had read that the food draws influence from Marrakech, Spain and Turkey, so we were off to a good start in my book.
As I walked into the restaurant, I was warmly greeted by the friendly manager who showed me to my table. The restaurant had a lovely, dark, moody decor, perfect for date night, with its subdued lighting. It was rather quiet during my lunchtime reservation, save for a couple of professional types. The large windows were great for people-watching, the hustle and bustle of the busy West End street outside.
In the interests of giving a full review, we decided I’d try taster portions of a wide range of the dishes 😉
I prefer my drinks on the sweet side, so my waiter recommended their signature drink, Beso Sensation (£9): Vodka, Passionfruit, Chambord and orange juice. This was wonderfully refreshing and just the right side of sweet. There was a subtle taste of the alcohol, but it wasn’t overpowering, exactly how I like it.
Marrakech Martini (£9.50): Grey Goose Vodka, Amaretto Disarrono and orange juice. This looked wonderful. I felt very “Sex and The City” drinking this one. It didn’t disappoint on taste either. You could really taste the kick in the booze, but hey, it was a lovely sunny day, no apologies. I felt like this one would release my happy vibes!
Crispy Chickpeas, cumin and paprika (£3.50). These had a lovely, soft crunch. There was a subtle hint of the spices coming through, incredibly moreish. I’ve had chickpeas prepared in all sorts of ways, but this is my favourite.
Three Mini Moroccan Salads (£7)
I tried these with their Multigrain Sourdough. The fusion of flavours (spinach, aubergine) was unfamiliar but extremely pleasant. The Moroccan influence really came through on this one, a lovely, light starter.
Crispy Squid, smoked creme fraiche and lime (£7.50)
Crunchy on the outside and a pleasant chewy texture on the inside, just how you’d expect squid to be. It complemented the pink-hued creme fraiche.
Smoked Mackerel Pate (£8)
This was my favourite tapas. The sharpness of the mackerel tempered by the Granny Smith apple and walnut accompaniment made for a great starter. It looked great too.
Ox Tongue (£7)
This was literally melt in your mouth goodness. Cooked to perfection, the subtle sauce it was cooked in made it an incredibly light treat, which is hard to do with a meat dish.
The tapas game is strong at Beso. My advice, if coming with friends, order the lot and share, you won’t regret it. I had to remind myself that the mains were still on the way.
Grilled Lamb Cutlets and smoked aubergine Begendi (kind of like a creamy aubergine paste), (£14.50)
The lamb was cooked to perfection! Full of flavour and very lightly seasoned to allow the natural taste to come through. It was served with crispy kale, kind of like crispy seaweed, which I adore.
The Vegetarian option, Berber Vegetables Tagine (£11) was wonderful! Normally when you think vegetarian option it’s bland stuff, but this meal was rich with sweet tomatoes, prunes, olives, preserved lemons etc. A really pleasant surprise. I’m not a vegetarian, but I would order this as my main without a second thought.
Yes, I still had space for dessert, what of it? I’m glad they convinced me to try a piece of the Valrhona Choc Delice (£7). It was served with edible flowers and a raspberry sorbet. The strong chocolatiness, tempered by the warm dark chocolate and sweet sorbet, and the feeling of naughtiness eating real flowers. Must be tried!
I really enjoyed my visit to Beso. Great food and ambience as well as friendly, attentive staff, I will certainly be back!
190 Shaftesbury Avenue
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