As the name suggests – once you literally dissect it – Mezemiso is a Lebanese / Japanese restaurant. Sadly, this doesn’t mean the kind of dishes my mind first jumped to, such as hummus tempura or nigiri tabbouleh. Well, I say sadly, on second thoughts that doesn’t sound pretty grim. Far better then is their actual approach of two distinct menus, offering well executed versions of both cuisines.
Set on the 15th floor of the Crown Plaza on the Albert Embankment – and accessed by its own external ear-popping lift – Mezemiso offers great views over the river and over London, particularly from the shisha / cigar terrace. The cigar menu is a beautifully-annotated thing of Cuban-made beauty but probably deserves a separate visit to really do it justice (and certainly a warmer, drier night). For us, on this alleged summer night, it was all about the food, the wine and the highly attentive service.
Houmous, or hummus, or hommos as they spell it here, comes in three forms, either solo, topped with lamb or topped with whitebait. We opted for the second, and it was as good as such a simple combination can be, particularly with the excellent pita. Even better, however, were the chicken livers, sautéed with lemon and pomegranate molasses. One day, when I get around to compiling my budget eating list for London, it’s this dish that will feature prominently, a rich, meaty, sticky, sweet and savoury bowl of warm iron-y perfection for a mere £8. The catch of the day Sambosek – crispy dough with, in our case, salmon and sea bass – were also terrific.
From the other side of the world / menu, we walk a similarly familiar path. Gyoza – scallop and prawn – were excellent, ditto miso-marinated black cod because, well, miso-marinated black cod. There’s a very good reason this dish has been much imitated as our speedily produced clean plate confirms. There’s also excellent sashimi, elaborately eye-catching rolls, and as evinced by the crispy prawn and creamy fruity sauce, someone in the kitchen who can fry to an Olympian level.
The catch with places such as this, of course, is the speed with which you can build a bill, even at these much-better-than-anticipated prices. I’d certainly recommend grazing steadily, not ordering all at once and letting the staff – such as the charming Adriana – guide you. These are both cuisines that can be delivered quickly so far better to pick steadily than waste food (and make your bank card squeal). The two cuisines sit surprisingly well alongside each other too, as both are typically simple celebrations of one or two key ingredients and clean flavours.
Things are pretty strong on the drinks front too, with both countries represented on the cocktail menu although it’s Lebanon that twists our arm with the Byblos Gin Fizz (za’atar infused gin, jallab, grapefruit and rhubarb) and the Shisha Smoked Old Fashioned (Nikka from the barrel washed with carob, Laphroaig 10 and a caramel liquor). Both are exemplary. The wine list is simple but strong. It’s a little lumpy but it’s also dotted with big names and many are available by the glass – including Musar, and Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc.
All in all, Mezemiso feels like a bold experiment that’s paid off. Whether it’s a graze through some good straightforward food, or my prescription for a cracking night (a glass of red, those chicken livers and a cigar), there’s a lot to like here.
10-11 Albert Embankment,