When I've been working out of the London office for the day, Kingley Court off Carneby Street is usually where I head: not only do they have some pretty awesome bars and restaurants, but it is two tube stops away from Westminster, and then only another two to St. Pancras. I can have an early dinner, and still be at home at Kent, showered and in my pajamas in time for the news at 10. I love Dirty Bones when it is cold and dark out, and Señor Ceviche is fantastic if you're after some fruity cocktails and lots of zingily dressed raw fish. However, I've now found the place you need to head to if you're after some summer evening killer street food, great non-alcoholic options and unique, street food inspired starters: Le Bab.
Instead of having a cocktail and a non-alcoholic cocktail menu, instead you have the option of ordering a virgin version of everything on the main cocktail list, meaning that you won't feel like you're missing out if you have to drive later (I used up my drink of the evening enjoying a rare table outside Antidote before dinner). I had a virgin version of their summer cup flavoured with blueberries, mint, elderflower cordial and ginger beer (stupidly drinkable) sans gin. Their boozed up Dark N' Stormy tasted pretty great, too.
To start, I knew before I got the the restaurant from a browse of the menu online what I wanted to order: lokoma doughnuts, bathed in a sweet sticky glaze, sprinkled with dried rose petals (I asked them to leave off the chopped peanuts), and most importantly, stuffed with a rich, smooth and velvety chicken liver pate. Do they really need any more introduction? And more importantly, you get two of them so they're perfect to share and still not miss out on the other starter on the table that sadly was not mine.
Meet the Scotch koftes, basically a spiced pork kofta, wrapped around a perfectly brown soft boiled egg with the most brilliant yolk, sitting in a puddle of house (date rich) brown sauce. The egg frankly looked perfect, and my companion polished off the meat in moments. However, I would (and he did) forgo the sauce, because while it was nice, it was far, far too sweet - sweeter than the intentionally sweet glaze on my doughnuts.
Time for another round of drinks, the smokey cocktail with mezcal in it (sorry I can't remember their names) was an absolute winner. I had the Bloody Mary (sans vodka) and while it was okay and had a really unique flavour, I did not finish it and wished I had not ordered it; I don't really think it has a place on a menu for a restaurant that only opens at 12pm and does not offer a brunch service. It just did not go with the food.
Speaking of the food, we both moved onto the 15-hour free range pork shawarma: tender, marinated pork, wonderfully smokey griddled spring onions, a roasted white broccoli puree, a frankly divine and much welcome to cut through the pork fennel pickle, crisp shards of pork crackling, and a tangy chermoula mayo all wrapped up in a paper thin (but still strong), delicious, slightly salt dough like flatbread.
Fondue fries were a must on the side looking at the menu. However, while I thought the fries were just average, according to my cheese eating companion the cheesy fondue dip was a bit congealed. Looking at the menu and the dishes coming out of the kitchen, if I had not been with someone who was practically allergic to vegetables (!), I think I would have really enjoyed the salad of endive, topped with pomegranate seeds and a shallot dressing. They also had a salad on the specials board (written in marker pen on the extractor vents coming out of the open kitchen, actually) that looked pretty great.
For dessert we also both ordered the same: the creme brûlée spiced with cardamom, cinnamon and cloves was calling to us! A perfectly spiced cream (that was rich without being too much) and a burnt sugar top with the perfect amount of crunch. And it is not too big either, so you can still fit it in if you're feeling a bit full towards the end of the meal, or you can order this alongside another dessert if you've still got room!
In spite of the few niggles I've pointed out, we actually had a pretty fantastic meal at Le Bab, and will defiantly be coming back after work over the summer. It is a pretty little spot with some really original dishes, though it is sure to be packed every evening so be sure to book online before heading over!