Mezzet Dar

After Marie attended the Dar launch night on October 10th she couldn’t wait to return. The décor was charming and the menu enticing. Knowing the quality of food at sibling Mezzet, Dar showed promise to be a great new Surrey restaurant.

The Lebanese & Spanish married couple behind Mezzet and Dar come from two of the most renowned food nations on earth. Their first restaurant, Mezzet (our review), stayed true to his Lebanese heritage but new venture Dar is a fusion of the two, tapas style. To borrow from Ann’s American cousin, how awesome is that?

Mezzet Dar exterior

The interior is stylish with delightful finishing touches. We enjoyed sitting in the front room and watching the goings on in the street.

Front room interior at Dar

There’s a library room, which is a closed off space that would be perfect for evening or a private party. That’s actually Bridge Road in the old photo on the wall.

Library dining room at Dar

Bet you didn’t guess this photo is of the loo!

Beautiful Lady's Loo at Dar

They have an extensive cocktail list. Tessa & Marie tried the excellent virgin cocktails, shame we have kids to pick up from school so we couldn’t have non-virgin ones.

Service is very authentic, welcoming and efficient. The superb Chef and kitchen stall are Spanish, along with the waitstaff. The more intricate Lebanese dishes are made at Mezzet and brought to Dar, ensuring the highest quality of both cuisines on the menu.

virgin cocktails at Dar

The menu is all tapas or mezze small dishes. Which we love because we get to try so many different ones. Tapas isn’t know for being particularly vegetarian friendly, but the Lebanese influence means there are sereral non-meat dishes to choose from.

We started with highly addictive Brittle pistachios £3.00, tasty Cheese and olives £3.00 and Piquillo Hoummus £5.00 a blend of Piquillo peppers and a traditional Lebanese hoummus served with fresh bread. Beautiful texture and bursting with flavour, this is not your regular supermarket hoummus.

piquillo hoummus, olives & cheese, brittle pistachios at Dar

On to the mains:

Melon con jamon with a twist £6.50 melon on a bed of crispy Serrano ham with sweet pickled tomato . What stunning presentation. We though the twist would be standard menu speak but the flavours actually are surprising. Pickled tomatoes are a most unusual and genius addition to a classic dish.

Melon and ham at Dar

Moutabal and shanklish toasts £5.50 smoked aubergine puree with beetroot and walnuts crumbled goats cheese with za’atar spice and caramelised onions. Another exceptionally presented selection. Mmm, they may not be elegant to eat but they sure were tasty.

moutable and shanklish at Dar

Fouter saute £5.75 wild mushrooms served with a labneh quenelle. Lovely meaty mushrooms with a perfectly paired sauce.

fouter saute mushrooms at Dar

Vieiras con migas £8.95 pan fried scallops with chef’s soujuk crumbs and a parmentier sauce.
This is nothing short of heaven in a bowl. If there is any rivalry between the chefs at Mezzet and Dar, the scallops at Dar have the edge, which is no easy feat!

scallops at Dar

Broken harra £6.00 saute diced potatoes with spicy harra sauce, truffle oil and a quail egg. Bursting with flavour, including a good amount of heat.

broken harra potatoes at Dar

Though we’d thoroughly stuffed ourselves, one look at the dessert menu and we were sold. In a big way, we went for four of them!

Churros con chocolate £5.00 Spanish fried doughnuts with a cream chocolate. This caused a lot of giggles at our table. The popping candy doesn’t kick in immediately, allowing you to enjoy the flavours of the chocolate and the doughnuts. At first we kind of thought it didn’t do anything. And then we felt it dancing on our tongues. Great fun.

churros con chocolate at Dar

Torrija £4.50 Infused brioche bread, goldened in a pan and service with a fruit coulis. Nice, kind of like French toast but denser. It’s a bit heavy so save room if you plan to order this one.

Torrija at Dar

Baklava £4.50 a sweet layered pastry with almonds, pistachios and pine kernels. Made by the experts at Mezzet. It’s hard not to love properly made baklava.

Dar Baklava

Tarta de Santiago £4.50 Traditional Spanish almond cake served with vanilla ice cream. Exquisite. Impeccable. Ambrosial. Umm, apply any other ott adjectives you can think of. We hadn’t expected anything of this, almond cake sounds a bit meh, but it was seriously yummy. We fought over it and cannot wait to have it again.

Spanish Almond Cake at Dar

We LOVE Dar. Writing this is saliva inducing. It’s Marie’s birthday next week and of all the places in Surrey and London she’s choosing to go to Dar for her birthday dinner. That almond cake is going to make for a pretty perfect birthday celebration.

39 Bridge road, Hampton Court, East Molesey, KT8 9HA
www.mezzet.co.uk
Street parking or use overpriced car park at the train station.

We were guests of Mezzet Dar but this is no way biased our review.

Liebster Award

Gary Lum from yummylummy.com has very kindly nominationed us for a Liebster Award. I had to go research what that was. A Liebster Award is an award nominated to and from bloggers, to share things about ourselves and show support for fellow bloggers. If you’re unfamiliar with Yummy Lummy, it’s a recipe and restaurant review blogged based in Australia that features excellent photography.

Gary’s ten questions and my (on behave of the Ladies’) ten answers:

What’s the best meal you’ve ever cooked? My lasagna, made in North American fashion with cottage cheese and none of that nasty Bechamel sauce. It takes me hours to make but is always a hit.

What’s your favourite meal? Fajitas

What food makes you remember your childhood? Blueberries, and the endless hours spent picking wild ones. When in the region of northern Georgian Bay, we would drive along until a good potential spot was sighted – a high rocky bit with a clearing. Then, armed with the biggest bowls we had, we would find our way up the hill to inevitably to a clearing full of blueberry bushes. Every time I eat the cultivated store bought variety I think of how blueberries are supposed to taste.

What is your dream meal? A tasting menu featuring scallops, beetroot, balsamic vinegar, calamari, wild mushrooms, butternut squash, red peppers and venison.

What recipe are you planning that you’re excited about? Getting in my car and driving to a new restaurant.

Share something unique/weird about you in the context of food. I’ve eaten a termite, on safari in South Africa. It was straight from the nest and tasted of grass.

Name one food person who you admire and why? Mary Berry, I wish she were my grandma.

What is your favourite kitchen appliance and why? Microwave, because I always forget to take the meat out of the freezer to thaw ahead of time.

Name one technique or strategy that is working well for your blog right now. Twitter

Name one food related app or tool that you can’t live without. (For example, Instagram, Adobe Photoshop Express) A fork.

My nominees are:

fabfood4all.co.uk

inher30s.com

londonunveiled.com

theswfoodblog.wordpress.com

thechicmommy.com

deltiologydeity.wordpress.com

torontopubs.wordpress.com

shirleeandjaneeatsurrey.com

surreyedit.com

upanddowninsurreyandlondon.com

My nominees: Should you choose to accept, this is what you have to do next:

– link back and recognise the blogger who nominated you
– answer the 10 questions given by the nominator
– nominate 10 other bloggers for the award
– create 10 questions for nominees to answer
– notify your nominees

My ten questions are:

With a two course meal, would you rather have a starter or a dessert?
What’s the craziest restaurant experience you’ve had?
Do you recognise the superiority of pumpkin pie as a dessert?
If you could only eat one type of animal for the rest of your life, which would it be?
My friends were recently guests of honour at a dinner in Bangkok where they given shark fin soup, how would you have reacted?
Name a food you hated as a child but love now.
What is your favourite type of (world) cuisine?
Of all the places you’ve travelled, where would you least like to return?
How much time do you spend writing a blog post?
Name one technique or strategy that is working well for your blog right now.

Thank you all for participating!

Mezzet

We’re always excited to learn about a new restaurant opening. Lately there seems to be a new one opening every week in Surrey, we’re very lucky. So we were delighted to be invited to the launch party of Mezzet Dar in Hampton Court.

Mezzet Dar is the newest venture by the owners of Mezzet, two doors away. It marries Lebanese mezza with Spanish tapas, just like the married couple who opened it.

Bubbles were flowing, the Spanish guitarist was strumming up a storm and the crowd spilled out onto the road. My husband and I enjoyed a drink and a look around, along with scores of others…click here to read our Dar review

Mezzet Dar opening party

Hungry, we decided to get a full meal at the original Mezzet two doors down. It was opened in 2012 by a local Molesey couple, he is Lebanese and she Spanish. Mezzet is true to his Lebanese roots and offers authentic Lebanese cuisine. Since its opening, the restaurant has become hugely popular and enjoys a loyal following.

We were about to discover why.

Mezzet Hampton Court Exterior

Located on my new favourite street, Bridge Road in Hampton Court, Mezzet is near the far end from the bridge. There’s seating on the pavement to enjoy to bustle of the street on fine days.

Inside, the décor is smart and bright with Lebanese accents to remind you what type of restaurant you’re in.

mezzet lebanese restaurant interior

Service is very authentic. Staff are attentive, knowledgable about menu items and of course, in true Lebanese style, genuinely welcoming.

mezzet lebanese restaurant seating area

Having just come from Dar, we were mentally in the mood for mezze – though Mezzet is more than just mezze. There’s no shortage of tempting main courses on offer.

We ordered a plethora of dishes.

mezzet lebanese restaurant mezze

We had, clockwise from the big round dish in the centre:

Hindbeh Bill scallops scallops/dandelion greens/pine nuts/dried fried onion £8.95. This was my favourite dish of the night. Perfectly cooked and deliciously paired with greens and fried onions. Gorgeous.

mezzet lebanese restaurant scallops

Soujuk Traditional spicy sausages/onions/peppers/lemon juice £6.96. Heavenly tangy flavour, excellent tomato sauce. The waiter said they were his favourite and S agrees with him.

mezzet lebanese restaurant spicy sausage makanek

Sambousek cheese pastry filled with cheese/parsley £4.95. Delightful texture, light and fluffy and not heavy the way cheese can sometimes be. The accompanying mint sauce was super yummy (and came with the spinach pastry as well.)

mezzet lebanese restaurant sambousek cheese

Jawaneh grilled chicken wings/garlic/coriander sauce £5.50. Yummy with a very garlicky sauce.

mezzet lebanese restaurant chicken wings

Calamari fried calamari lemon/cumin/salt £6.95. Excellent, fresh tasting and flavourful with the ideal amount & seasoning of batter.

mezzet lebanese restaurant calamari

Fatayer spinach pastry with pine nuts/onions/spinach £5.50. As you may have noticed in the overview photo above, my husband gets impatient with my photo taking and while I still had my camera out he started digging in. He did a loud mmm because he tasted something so good. I’d assumed he’d tried the sausage but he was acutally savouring a spinach pastry. You know it must be good if a man is mmming about vegetables!

mezzet lebanese restaurant fatayer spinach

Though we’d crammed ourselves full of as much yummy mezze as humanly possible, I cannot resist baklava. So we ordered some. It was incredible, bite sized baklava with fresh fruit. (Yes, my husband messed with the grapes before I could photograph it.)

My dream dessert come true.

mezzet lebanese restaurant baklava

The food here is top notch. Mezzet is a West End quality restaurant in Surrey, and makes an excellent alternative to travelling into town. It is a restaurant you’re guaranteed to love.

43 Bridge Road East Molesey KT8 9ER
www.mezzet.co.uk
Street parking or use overpriced car park at the train station.

We were guests of Mezzet but this is no way biased our review.

Spice Merchant

We settled, dubiously, on the Indian – Spice Merchant. We’d ventured into ‘old’ Walton-on-Thames, as we knew there were restaurants down there but had never tried any of them. The ‘triangle’ is a united nations of eateries, Thai, Japanese/Korean, two pubs and and Indian.

As you may know, I’m not a curry person however I ceded the Indian to reward my husband for putting up with me photographing all his meals.

Spice Merchant Walton on Thames external

We ventered in, to a stereotype. A too big space dominated by a retro bar is filled with white table cloths and padded chairs and completely devoid of diners. We very nearly left but the waiter was desperate for us to sit down, so we stayed.

Spice Merchant Walton-on-Thames dining room

After a look around we found there are two additional smaller rooms with cosier feels. We took a seat by a big corner window so we could people watch. It took until our main course but eventually other diners did come.

Our server was friendly and eager to please, I can’t fault the service. There is a benefit to being the only people in the restaurant.

Spice Merchant Walton-on-Thames right seating area

The menu promises they use the best produce, acquired daily, and the finest spices from around the world.

The chef’s special section is enticing and there was more than one choice I actually wanted to eat (instead of my normal butter chicken curry cop-out.) One dish is the chicken kama sutra, that comes with a ‘lovers beware’ warning. I’m not convinced curry is a good precurser to a night of passion.

We began with popadums and chutney £1.30. I’m not a fan – love the chutneys not the actual popdums – so I watched my husband eat them, they were nice enough he went for a second round, just to make me wait a little longer to get some food.

Spice Merchant Walton-on-Thames popadums

And then our feast arrived.

Spice Merchant Walton-on-Thames Friday night curry

Sharing our mains was apparently never an option. For his main my husband had the Deshi Karahi chicken £7.50 a true authentic dish …one of the most popular dishes if the Asian sub continent …hot an spicy for the true curry lovers. It was very good, lots of nice flavours. Be warned, it seemed spicier than its one chili indication.

Spice Merchant Walton-on-Thames spicy curry

I decided on the Chef’s Special Roast Bengal style £9.95 spring chicken marinated and infused with spices, char grilled and then slowly cooked in a rich masala sauce. It was nicely presented and really enjoyable, there was no spice indication but did have some heat. Large pieces of chicken and potatoes, it wasn’t quite the guess what’s in the sauce that I normally think of curries as and I liked that.

Spice Merchant Walton-on-Thames chicken curry

We shared a Raitha cool whipped yoghurt with cucumber, tomatoes and fresh coriander £1.30. This bowl was big, more than we could have hoped to eat yet yummy enough we tried our bests to finish it.

Spice Merchant Walton-on-Thames cucumber yoghurt

And just when you thought the yoghurt dish was a bargain, the Cachimber Indian green salad £1.75 beats them all. Tomatoes, cucumber, peas, onions, lettuce on a dinner plate. This could be a lunch, and a healthy one at that.

Excellent Peshwari naan £2.50 and pilau rice with saffron £2.20. also accompanied our mains.

Spice Merchant Walton-on-Thames salad

It’s always nice when your expectations are exceeded. Of course it helps when you go in with such low ones. It might not be a stylish restaurant, but Spice Merchant certainly serves good food at good prices.

16-20 Bridge St, Walton-on-Thames KT12 1AA
Website is shared with their other location (and looks as if it’s only for their other location) but the menu is the same – www.spice-merchant.biz
Street parking

Mada Deli

It was a beautiful sunny Sunday, so the mr and I headed down to our new favourite street – Bridge Road in Hampton Court – for a stroll and a bite to eat.

We settled on eating at Mada Deli, mainly because everyone else had had the same idea as us and it was the only spot with a free table out front.

Mada Deli exterior

A deli with chandeliers is always going to appeal to a lady who lunches but the real joy here was the stuffed moose head looking over the dining room. (Don’t worry, it’s not real.) It’s a quirky space that’s quite fun.

Mada Deli interior

Being casual, you order at the counter and food is brought to your table. The server walks around with your food and calls out your number – pay attention! They seem to only call it once and not particularly loudly.

The menu is fairly wide ranging, including options for vegetarians and gluten free. There’s also plenty of fresh juices and smoothies on the menu.

Mada Deli counter

My husband opted for the Mushrooms on toast, rocket, blue cheese, walnuts, tomato & mushrooms on rustic bread & tea/coffee £7.50. Overall it was enjoyable, though it was a whole lot of blue cheese.

Mada Deli mushrooms on toast

I had the Chicken, avocado, pesto & pine nuts £4.50. Really nice bread, nice chicken, bit skimpy with the avocado. It was all right but slightly dry from the pesto/pine nuts, it needed more moisture.

I don’t know why, with such a good menu, I always opt for a sandwich. I think I’m going to self impose a moratorium on eating sandwiches until 2015.

Mada Deli chicken pesto sandwich

Mada Deli is a great brunch spot, particularly when it’s sunny and you can sit on the pavement.

PS – if you saw some crazy people buy the giant red phonebox cum wine rack and squeeze it into the back of a mini convertible and drive down Bridge Road I confess, that was us.

11-13 Bridge Rd, East Molesey KT8 9EU
Street parking or use overpriced car park at the train station.

Red Lion Shepperton

In another Sunday lunch outing with just my husband (no kids!) we headed over the river to test out the completely revamped Red Lion in Shepperton.

Red Lion Shepperton exterior

It’s not often you’re greeted by a beautiful display of fresh flowers upon entering a pub. That was the first clue we were in for a treat.

the Red Lion shepperton fresh flower display

New, enthusiastic owners have completely redone The Red Lion, from top to bottom.

The result is possibly the most current pub in Surrey. Fresh, stylish and modern but with original features and loads of character. It also manages to maintain a true casual feel.

The new version opened its doors on September 1st.

Red Lion Shepperton fireplace interior

The indoor pub area was perhaps my favourite room. It had such a great vibe and was unique and fresh feeling – not your standard stylish gastropub.

Red Lion Shepperton interior

On busier days they open the ‘snug,’ which is a room in the ‘other’ building, alongside the front patio. It’s bright but cosy and a calm space to relax in.

Red Lion Shepperton snug

The restaurant “room,” though nice enough, was my least favourite area of the pub (something’s got to be last place.) If I were to eat in the restaurant section I would specifically request a table at the front of the pub, in the restaurant area beside the bar (near the big fireplace pictured above.)

Red Lion Shepperton restaurant

A restaurant al fresco dining area (full table service) is nicely enclosed from the road.

Red Lion Shepperton al fresco restaurant seating

There’s an eyecatching outdoor pub seating area, though there’s no backs on seats.

Red Lion Shepperton outside seating

There’s a riverside garden along the Thames (across the road from the pub.) At the moment it’s the only part of the pub that hasn’t been redone however they have big plans for the space. In spring they are going to deck the entire area to create seating for 60, along with building a pagoda with an outdoor kitchen.

Red Lion Shepperton riverside dining area

The menu is changed daily. This means that the food is both interesting and fresh. It also means a smaller selection, which is generally fine though vegetarians may struggle.

Our service was very helpful and friendly.

We enjoyed our window seat.

Red Lion Shepperton river view

We didn’t feel like an entire appetiser each but were lured by the sound of the ‘cauliflower soup, with mushrooms & brioche £5.75‘ They suggested splitting the portion between us and served it to us in two cups.

It ended up being the perfect size. It was super yummy, the taste was enhanced perfectly by the mushrooms.

Red Lion Shepperton cauliflower soup

My husband had the ‘salt beef stovie with spinach, fried egg & mustard sauce £11.50.’ It was very tasty with a good mix of flavours and nice textures. It was a good lunch sized portion but he was glad he’d had the soup.

Red Lion Shepperton stovie

I had the beetroot & onion tart, caramelised goat cheese, apple & walnut salad £7.55. Technically a starter, there are a few ingredients I find impossible to pass up – beetroot and goat cheese are two of them – even if they are on the wrong course.

The pastry was so flakey it actually made a crunchy sound when cutting through. Everything about it was delicious. With the 1/2 soup, it was filling for me for lunch.

Red Lion Shepperton beetroot and goat cheese tart

Our food was fabulous and the ambiance was fabulous.

Move over Surrey pubs, there’s a new lion in town. If this sets the new standard for Surrey pubs we’re very excited indeed.

Russell Rd, Shepperton, Surrey, TW17 9HX
Small car park.
Dogs welcome outside and in the bar area.

Cafe Aromas

A bit of sun and a bit of free time allowed me to bip to Cobham to check out Cafe Aromas.

Cafe Aromas is located on a quiet street just off the high street. There’s not much traffic so it’s enjoyable to sit on the pavement in front without traffic whizzing by. (Obviously I’m behind with my posts, as sitting outside probably isn’t an option for a few months.)

Cafe Aroma Cobham

Inside is pretty standard cafe décor but it’s clean and bright, though the drinks fridge is a bit loud. It was bustling when we visited (clearly after I took these photos.)

Staff are extra friendly and service is very good.

The menu is pretty thorough. There’s a better than average offering for cafes. All food is freshly prepared.

Cafe Aroma Cobham interior

My husband had the pasta of the week, “penne pasta, flasked salmon pieces and spinach with a cheese sauce and paprika breadcrumbs £7.50.” It was tasty. The portion wasn’t huge, but they did come around and offer more.

Cafe Aroma Cobham Pasta Bake

I opted for the “sliced avocado & green salad £5.75.” I was worried it would just be leaves but there was plenty to this salad (I asked for no tomatoes because tomatoes are gross.) It was a really enjoyable salad, crisp and refreshing. It filled me up and was excellent value.

Cafe Aroma Cobham salad

Cafe Aromas is a definite asset to Cobham town centre. It’s what you might call a “good, honest cafe.”

28 Hollyhedge Rd, Cobham, KT11 3DG
Very close to the main Cobham town car park.