Lebanese delights on a platter

FOOD REVIEW

The ears hear middle-eastern music while the eyes soak in the interiors that are quite contemporary, making one wonder if the Mediterranean food at Zizo will add to this confusion, since Lebanese is not an easy cuisine to deal with. 

The expert chef from Lebanon, however, takes up the challenge of not just serving the same to Delhiites but also ensuring that they like it.

Metrolife selects the lounge area in the first floor of the restaurant to settle and savour the Mediterranean gastronomic delights on offer. Considering its central location, K-Block in Connaught Place, the management of the eatery has made a prudent decision to focus more on quick food and starters than delve into an elaborate main course. But this also puts them in competition with the fast food chains in the vicinity.

To ditch the craving for a subway sandwich or burger, one must check out the Hot and Cold Mezze options in the menu designed quite graphically. Checking our order, Chef Danny Elsoury insists that we add Spicy Hummus to the list of Traditional Moutabal, Fatte and Crusted Shankleesh Salad. The advice is appreciated when one tastes the spicy paste made of red chilli from Beirut. Mashed together with chickpea, the experimentation draws our attention. But the Indian palate fails to appreciate the moutabal for the typical aftertaste of raw eggplant that the dish leaves in mouth. Fatte, though containing oodles of oil, tastes good due to a crispy crust provided to the smooth spread with a garnish of pine nuts.

The mixed reaction to the fare takes a new twist with Cheese & Zaatar Manoushe and Veggie & Cheese Manoushe, served fresh from the oven. While the cheesy side of the manoushe appears glossy, the zaatar-side is dry. For someone trying these for the first time, its quite an experience. The risk factor is much less in Veggie & Cheese Manoushe which is more like a pizza prepared on Lebanese bread. With a little sprinkling of chilli flakes and oregano, the bread and topping turn Indian!

Trust the Delhiites’ ability to try and Indianise and incorporate in our lives much that comes our way, especially food! Such as the ever-popular shawarma that makes us go gaga. At Zizo, however, we skip the regular and try the Chicken Dibs Rumman Roll. Prepared with basic spices, the vegetables tossed in melted cheese hug the juicy chicken pieces as if in love. The pomegranate molasses (imported from Lebanon, like most of the other ingredients used at this place) complete the dish making one confident about rumman rolls becoming the next big thing from West Asia.   

The wonderful pita bread has contributed much to Mediterranean gastronomic delight, so Metrolife checks out its preparation and finds the cooks weighing kneaded flour before rolling them and placing them in the oven. These soft breads dissolve in the  mouth making one forget about the main course waiting to be devoured.

The Lebanese Potato Pie and Oriental Leg of Lamb (served with spice-flavoured rice) make the meal sumptuous. Though there is nothing extraordinary about the pie, the lamb deserves a mention. Cooked over slow flame, the lamb lends its flavours to the rice which in turn couple with the former to make it a one-of-its-kind dish.

One curbs the excitement on spotting Zizo’s pickle collection (prepared in vinegar and water) by focussing on the different Baklawas put together in one plate. As chef explains each, we let the palate revel in the flavour of nuts, semolina and vermicelli balanced on phyllo. The Chocolate Banana Manoushe adds to the dessert experience with its gooey syrup that wraps the fruit and hazelnuts that provide it the crunchy, fulfilling aftertaste.

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