There are two kinds of business lunch. Either you nip out of the office to grab a speedy sarnie before rushing back to your next meeting, or else you're after a long, leisurely repast, where you eat your fill, put the world to rights and decide to cut the day short and head home for a snooze.
Fakhreldine definitely fits into the latter category. The restaurant was quiet, the service faultless; it’s the sheer quantity of fare on offer than makes the colourful, aromatic meal such a long drawn-out affair. The cold mezze course was a 12 dish selection of traditional Arabic fare. Our table was piled with golden hummus, smoky moutabal topped with glistening purple pomegranate seeds, crumbly local cheese mixed with herbs, and tangy salted slivers of beef. This is cuisine for herb-loving picky eaters.
The tabouleh was parsley perfection, the fatoush the perfect mingling of vinegary salad and crunchy flakes of bread, and the rocca salad garlicky as any gallic gourmand could hope for. There seemed to be little inroad made into these plates before the table heaved under the additional weight of the warm mezzes. These were equally tasty – warm mini mandeesh with cheese and zaatar (the traditional sesame and herb mix), piping-hot meat kibbeh, tiny sausages in a piquant tomato sauce and falafel, the latter uncomfortably cake-like after such a binge.
There still seemed to be mezze mountains around our ears but it was time to move onto the mixed grill. Slumping back in the slumber-inducing cushions we were faced with a platter of chunky chicken and beef kebabs, delicately spiced and deliciously moreish, and even with our protruding stomachs begging us to stop, we tucked in with wild abandon. Fresh fruit was the final course: melon, strawberries, grapes and apple greeted our gluttonous eyes. As we gingerly rose to our feet, a doggy bag was presented with a flourish. Fabulous food guaranteed to fill a whole army of workers.