Dalila – Lebanese Restaurant

photoWhere: Dalila, Queenstown Road Battersea

When: Saturday 13th September, 7.30pm

Cuisine: Lebanese

Ambiance: Being a Saturday night the place was bustling and it was a good job we had booked in advance. That being the case our table for seven was nicely placed, we weren’t pushed for space and there was pleasant low key lighting. However, a source of some amusement was the ridiculous amount of cushions that were propping us up!

Service: Attentive and polite, they put up with our rowdy table of northerners and Irish  folk with a smile on their face and good humour. They even sent across extra complimentary baklava after the first two plates were inhaled within seconds.

Food:

Appetisers

Lebanese cuisine is primed and ready for sharing with it’s series of delicious hot and cold meze dishes offering something for everyone and Dalila’s didn’t disappoint. We shared a plain and the Beiruty humus, the latter had a hot pepper, garlic and parsley topping which was delicious served with hot flat breads – more bread would have been good! We also had Fatayer Spinach, which was a tasty light filo spring roll that melted in the  mouth.  The stand out ovation had to go to the grilled halloumi which was perfectly cooked and utterly delicious. The only disappointment was the spicy sausage which came in an overly watery sauce and lacked a firm meaty texture.

Mains

I chose the Lamb Meshwe, which was charcoal grilled cubes of lamb served with a small  portion of herby rice and salad. The lamb was beautifully tender and had distinct charcoal flavours, the spicy sauce that was provided to the table added a really nice kick – be careful though this does pack a punch! I also swapped a chunk of lamb with my friends chicken, this was moist (sorry!) and succulent, and a dish I would probably order next time around. The portions were substantial and you could easily share a main course between two with a couple of sides if preferred.

Drinks

Being a bit budget conscious – I did say we heralded from the north of England and Ireland – we decided to go rogue and have the ‘bin end’ wine selection, usually called ‘house wine.’ This was a  bit like playing Russian roulette with wine as each bottle was different. However, out of three, two of them were pleasant and quaffable. The third doesn’t need to be spoken of again.

Extras

As previously mentioned, with the bill came complimentary baklava. Personally I find it slightly too sickly sweet (plus not a massive fan of honey) but the rest of the table ably ate my share and another two plates so I would say it was a hit.

Budget

We split the bill paying £30 each including service – so as a ball park and if you don’t have bin ends I would say a substantial meal for 2 with wine will cost about £70.

The menu also boasts an amazing choice of set menus varying in size and price per person so another one to dig into if you’re an indecisive diner.

Overall – delicious food, slightly dodgy wine (but that was out choice!) and attentive service all five minutes walk from my flat – what more could I want?

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Anton Mallick Wants to be Happy by Nicolas Casariego

AntonMallick
Title: Anton Mallic Wants to be Happy

Author: Nicolas Casariego (translated by Thomas Bunstead)

Publisher: Hispabooks Publishing

Paperback:347 pages

Why I chose to read this book: Hispabooks kindly got in touch after seeing my previous reviews on translated European fiction and this title stood out on their list so I requested a copy.

Where to read: Outdoors. If you can make the most of the last of the summer, I sat under a tree in a quiet corner of Battersea Park

Refreshments: I tried not to be so obvious however, reading about life in Madrid is always going to stimulate an appetite for chunks of chorizo with manchego and perhaps some crusty bread washed down with san pellegrino lemon. If you’re feeling a bit fancier than the usual supermarket option then track down a local Spanish deli like Brindisa.

Review:
 After an unexpected incident triggers his first anguish attack in months, Antón is dead set on putting an end once and for all to his woeful days. Masterly woven into novel form by Nicolás Casariego, his journal, a miscellanea of narrative, reflection, and witty comments on famous self-help books and the works of great philosophers and renowned authors, will bear witness to his quest for happiness. An action-packed book with a refreshing tone, a sharp outlook, and, above all, plenty of humor.

Written as a diary to his great-great-great grandfather, Hungarian immigrant Vidor Mallick, the combination of conversation, quotes and critiques of philosophical ideas creates a unique and compelling style of writing that I haven’t before experienced. The plot is subtly woven giving glimmers into the reasons behind Anton’s depression combing over his estranged family and day to day life slowly revealing dark and often shocking incidents that have befallen him. As a character, Anton draws you into the centre of his world and forces you into caring for him as if he were a real friend, something which can only be attributed to Casariego’s skills and flair in creating believable heroes.

The prose of this tragicomedy is brilliant swinging from the mundane to the hilariously acute, a number of times I was to be found either chuckling to myself or gasping in shock. Anton’s brother Zoltan, who one could belittle by calling the villain in the story has a number of the best one liners. His self-absorption and bouts of hysteria cast an interesting light on the psychotherapy, giving credence to the belief that the best psychologists are often afflicted by the same psychosis as there patients. Their mother is equally reflective of anyone’s post-technology relatives, with their weekly Skype chats offering a mirror image to many a Sunday afternoon in my living room.

An investigation and dissection of this abstract noun, Anton is dark and witty, his diary offering up a fantastic satire on people’s desire for an impossible happiness. The style of this book might take a little getting used to and it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but I would certainly recommend giving it a go as it is a very rewarding and enjoyable read.

Rating: 8 out of 10