Aladino’s restaurant offers Londoners a unique menu of Alexandrian cuisine with a contemporary twist. This delightful addition to Kensington’s dining scene is the realisation of a long-held dream by acclaimed chef and restaurateur Aladin Barakat. For 18 years Aladin’s 500-cover restaurant, located on one of the most beautiful beaches in the Egyptian port of Alexandria, was a magnet for dignitaries, VIPs and celebrities. With the opening of his London restaurant, Aladin has brought a flavour of that Alexandrian je ne sais quoi to High Street Kensington.
Alexandria, Egypt’s second city, is a historic cosmopolitan city whose native cuisine reflects the influences of the Mediterranean cultures drawn to it over the centuries incorporating Turkish, Lebanese, Greek and Syrian traditions, tastes and spices. Drawing inspiration from these exotic flavours, Aladino’s menu imbues traditional Alexandrian recipes with classic French and Italian influences, creating bold, original creations, sure to delight those looking for a vibrant alternative to the usual London restaurant fare.
Having been made to feel immediately welcome by our friendly waiter, we started our meal nibbling on delicately spiced warmed flatbread served with hummus and babaghanoush.
The chargrilled bread and moreish dips were a world away from the typical bread basket one experiences at London’s Mediterranean restaurants and we knew instantly that we were in for a treat.
The reputation of Aladin’s signature king prawns made this an obvious choice as a starter. The prawns are fried in delicately-flavoured light crispy coating and served with a delicious Bois Boudran sauce on a bed of gem lettuce and fennel. A must have dish for seafood lovers.
For those looking for a different take on moules marinière, we recommend trying the moules a l’égyptienne. Large succulent Fowey mussels are served in a special savoury sauce laced with fragrant Egyptian spices. The only thing that would make this dish even more wonderful would be if it was served with their moreish bread to soak up the spicy creamy sauce.
For the mains, I enjoyed another signature dish of slow-roasted lamb shank. The meat was beautifully tender and melted in the mouth while delighting the palate with the exotic subtlety of the mild Egyptian spices. Although tempted by the accompaniment of smooth mashed potatoes I swapped this for the fragrant saffron rice which felt more in keeping with our exotic Egyptian evening.
My dining companion tried the confit duck leg which was served with mustard fruits and celeriac remoulade. Fig and cherry in the mustard fruits made perfect partners with the duck and remoulade is always a favourite accompaniment for this type of rich flavoursome meat.
The wine list has something for every palate from traditional old world French and Italian wines to new world choices from Argentinia and Chile. As a bit of a traditionalist I paired my meal with an easy drinking Côtes du Rhône 2011 from the Gonnet family estate in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It is also nice to see a surprisingly varied choice of rosé wines so my dining companion indulged in a Côtes de Provence fruity and crisp Château Riotor 2013. For sides we orders fragrant saffron rice and a healthy dish of sauteed cauliflower.
The dessert menu includes the traditional Om Ali – a concoction of pastry, cream and dried fruits and nuts. But for something equally different, why not try Aladino’s delicious apple crumble and be surprised by the fresh tasting apple filling that contains tender bite-sized pieces of fruit in a light syrupy sauce topped with tiny morsels of caramel biscuity crumble which takes this dish to a whole new level of yumminess.
Chocolate lovers are not disappointed with a densely rich chocolate tart encased in almost wafter thin pastry and served with a pleasantly tart redcurrant compote which expertly cuts through the richness of the chocolate thus avoiding the cloying feeling one often gets with such a decadent dessert making our pairing with the sweet Tokaji dessert wine from Hungary even more special.
We were very privileged to be invited to share an after dinner drink in the restaurant’s bar with Aladin Barakat who told us all about his vision to open London’s first Alexandrian restaurant and how it took three years of painstaking work to design and develop the wonderful place Aladino’s is today.
A simple glass of Amaretto turned into a feast of nuts, sorbet and glasses of more delicious dessert wine and we were overwhelmed and humbled by Aladin’s generous hospitality. With such a warm enigmatic character at the helm, it is not surprising why Aladino’s is such a popular restaurant with its regular patrons which include the Egyptian Ambassador to the UK, Nasser Kamel, who we were also privileged to be introduced to that evening by the charasmatic Aladin.
Offering a rare glimpse of a vivid cuisine steeped in tradition and history that has been skilfully adapted to suit the modern palate, Aladino’s is a welcome addition to the capital’s dining scene and somewhere we will definitely be returning to with family and friends.
38c Kensington Church Street, London, W8 4BX
0207 937 2244