Fusion food always intrigues me, I love the idea of taking elements of different cuisines and combining them. Recently I was invited to try the full Rodizio dining experience at Rodizio Lebanon
(Brazilian/Lebanese food) and so, on a rainy Friday night, my boyfriend and I trundled across town for our second date night of the week (our first had been the Documentary Film Club
– date nights are apparently like buses, you wait for ages and then two come along at once). Brazilian/Lebanese food sounded like a bit of an odd combination until I read that approximately 6,000,000 Lebanese people live in Brazil (more than in Lebanon itself). So not such an odd combination after all then!
From what I’d read about Rodizio Lebanon beforehand, I initially wondered whether I should have picked someone other than my pescetarian boyfriend to take with me, however, I always think that it’s interesting to get a non-meat eating perspective on the restaurants we visit. The availability of non-meat options now becomes a factor in my restaurant choices. Plus, if I go out with a group of friends, it’s more likely than not that one will be vegetarian and so I like to choose places to eat where we can all eat well.
Rodizio Lebanon is located about two minutes around the corner from Fulham Broadway tube station. We turned up just before 8pm and the other diners were a mixture of couples, families and friends.
We chose a bottle of the house rosé which was a wine produced by Chateau Ksara, Sunset, which was described as a crisp and robust wine with a ripe red berry aroma with a hint of spiciness. Again, I clearly know very little about Lebanon as I hadn’t realised they produced wine, but apparently Lebanon is one of the oldest sites of wine production in the world, with the number of wineries increasing in recent years. Given that it was produced in Lebanon, it was the perfect accompaniment to the food.
Although we had wine, they had an extensive drinks menu which had some very tempting cocktails!
The full Rodizio dining experience involves two main aspects, firstly, you can help yourself to a wide choice of hot and cold mezze starters/side dishes from the starter bar. Secondly, there is the (for me) main attraction – freshly grilled meat which is brought to your table on skewers.
I’m not sure whether the Lebanese have an equivalent word for smorgasbord (anyone know?) but whether they do or not, this is definitely a smorgasbord of Lebanese goodies.
There are stuffed vine leaves, creamy hummus, zingy tabbouleh…
…beetroot cubes, potato salad, moudardara (lentils and rice served with fried onions), moutabbal (puree of smoked aubergine, sesame sauce and lemon juice) and many more.
Interestingly, some of the dishes that were most unfamiliar to us were our favourites and my boyfriend (a self-confessed aubergine hater) ended up loving the moutabbal!
There were also hot dishes available such as lamb stew, bean stew, rice dishes and musakaat (baked aubergine, chickpeas, onion and tomato).
But these were just the buffet dishes! Onto the grilled meat…
At Rodizio Lebanon they have a great system for serving the meat to the diners in the restaurant. If you choose the full Rodizio Dining Experience rather than the a la carte dishes, once you arrive they give you a little disc. One side is green and one side is red. When you’re ready for them to start serving you meat, you display the green side, if you need a break or you’re done, then you flip it over and they won’t bring any until you flip it back to green again.
As a meat lover, I started off super confident that I wouldn’t have to flip over my little disc to red. I was wrong, it just kept coming and I did end up taking one or two little meat breaks while I allowed my food to digest a bit.
Oh my gosh, the meat. I don’t think that I said no to anything (it all looked so good and it’s hard to resist when you know it’s so freshly cooked). I had cubes of chicken and beef, chicken sausages, lamb chops, chicken wings and legs, lamb kofte…. the list goes on.
As a nice change from meat, at one point there was also garlic bread which had been skewered and grilled and was served warm, in the same way as the meat.
The manager explained to us that in a traditional Brazilian churrascaria where the meat is served rodizio style, the meat is carved off the skewer by the waitors at the table, you can have the meat to your liking by selecting either a bit from the outside (more well done meat) or from closer to the skewer (rarer meat). However, Lebanese cuisine doesn’t heavily feature meat (which explains why the starter bar is about 80% vegetarian), so at Rodizio Lebanon the meat is skewered in individual portions which are then slid off the skewer and onto your plate.
In addition to the mezze dishes on the starter bar, there are also a whole variety of condiments to accompany whatever meat you choose.
The cubes of chicken were possibly my favourite though and perfectly cooked, juicy and tender.
I’m ashamed to say that over the course of the evening I think I made three trips to the starter bar, it was all so good. It was also well-tended throughout our time there.
After we could eat no more and our plates were taken away, we were brought a little dish of sweet treats including baklava. At this point I was concerned that they might be the wafer thin mint to our Mr Creosote.
Inside, in addition to the dining area there is a fully stocked bar but just in front of the restaurant is a shisha terrace which by the time we left (just after 10pm) was full of people huddled under heat lamps and blankets chatting and smoking shisha. We wandered out into the night, full to bursting.
All the staff we came into contact with Rodizio Lebanon were charming and helpful and we very much enjoyed our meal and our night. Normally buffet-style restaurants are a terrible idea for couples or two friends because you hardly end up spending any time together as one of you is always jumping up to head to the buffet. However, at Rodizio Lebanon, the fact that the meat was brought to the tables meant that you could enjoy a nice relaxing dining experience. I’d definitely say though that this would be a great place to go with a group of friends (safe in the knowledge that vegetarians are well catered for).
Our meals and wine were provided on a complimentary basis by Rodizio Lebanon but the views expressed here are my own unbiased opinions. Thanks Rodizio Lebanon!