The restaurant world is a funny old place. There are those places that shout about every landmark anniversary, mark their birthdays, boast of longevity… and there are those that just get on with it. Massis would appear to be very much in the latter category. That isn’t, incidentally, a complaint.
Like so many restaurants, Massis was hit by lockdowns, losing many of its regular customers to home-working. And, like so many restaurants, Massis pivoted, shifted focus… and then did it again and, very, probably two or three times more because, hey, that’s what restaurants had to do. In the meantime, they celebrated their 12th anniversary, had a full refurbishment and are now back, open, with a new menu and a new look.
Is it the best Lebanese food you’ll ever eat? No. Is it exceptional value, thoroughly decent and brought to you by lovely, friendly staff? Yes, wholeheartedly yes. It really won’t take you long to see how it’s lasted 12 years and why it should last at least 12 more.
The new menu is, apparently, based on “convivial-style dining”, a menu for sharing which, of course, makes it different to every other Lebanese restaurant because… hang on, it’ll come to me… actually, no, I’ve got nothing. Sarcasm aside, portions are vast, prices are still low, cooking is dependable.
You can easily put together a crowd pleasing, mezze-style meal from the “cold” and “hot” selections at the top of the menu and then “on grill” section in the middle. This is also where you’ll find some unexpected options – such as seabass chunks, or pulled beef – which don’t quite tick the cultural boxes but do tick the “come hungry, go home stuffed” ones. With prices averaging around £8 a dish for the hot and cold, and around £10 for the grilled, you can eat very well and still get change from £20 a head.
Alternatively, you can do what we did and over order for two by ordering, er, the Mezze for Two, where £38 will get you hummus, moutabal, tabbouleh, lamb sambousek, soujouk, shawarma and rice (alternatively the veggie alternative will cost you £30). We ate well, we drank a couple of beers – Alamaza, a very pleasing Lebanese brew – we kept picking… and we still had enough leftovers to make a very pleasant lunch the day after.
As I say, there are better Lebanese restaurants in London. But if you ever find yourself at Paddington and you think your only options are an Upper Crust sandwich or Delice de France et al, or if you’re looking for a god value catch-up with a mixed / fussy group? I’d vote Massis.
9 Sheldon Square