Another review for Timeout led me to Le Souk, a brand new Middle Eastern restaurant on Staunton Street. Le Souk stands in the place where Pacific Grill used to be and follows the speedy exit of Z Grill, a restaurant which appeared to last only five minutes. Let’s hope Le Souk doesn’t suffer the same fate.
It is, however, owned by Egyptian brothers Dody and Hero, also owners of the ever-popular Sahara and Antipasto (both on Elgin Street). Considering the brothers’ new venture was filled to the brim even on a Tuesday night, I’m sure Le Souk will have much better luck than its predecessors.
As you approach the restaurant, you hear Middle Eastern music singing down the street; you see the colourful walls and lanterns adorning every inch of the restaurant, and you begin to feel transported away from the monotony of Soho as we know it.
The name of the restaurant means ‘marketplace’ in Arabic. It is described in the menu as a melting pot of flavours where dishes and traditions from the Middle East, Morocco and Egypt blend together. I adore this type of cuisine so was instantly captivated by the aromas and sounds filling the space.
We began by sharing an Egyptian Mezze Platter: an exciting array of dips and nibbles served with warm pita bread (pictured above). Hummous is one of my favourite dips of all time, but sadly Le Souk’s version tasted a little bland. The babbaganoush and the zaaluk (a smoked eggplant and tomato dip) were delicious and made up for the lack of hummous; the falafel was amazing and not too greasy; the feta was beautifully soft and creamy; the kefta (little beef patties) were divine; I loved the Moroccan cigars (little feta and mint spring rolls), and I even ate the olives, which I normally don’t like. All of this was complemented perfectly by a plate of grilled halloumi cheese.
For mains, we chose to share a chicken tagine and a cous cous a Le Souk. Assuming the tagine would be the best thing on the table and always liking to leave the best for last, we started with the cous cous. This was a delicious dish consisting of a lamb shank, Merguez beef sausages, cous cous and a vegetable sauce. The lamb was so tender that it came straight off the bone and the sausages were full of flavour. My only complaint is that it was perhaps a little on the salty side.
The chicken tagine, on the other hand, lacked salt entirely and although not completely awful, just wasn’t nearly as good as we had expected it to be. The lemon confit, green olives and artichokes provided a rather bland flavour that left a lot to be desired. This was a shame, as normally I love tagines. Perhaps the salmon or lamb tagine, which are cooked in a different sauce, might fare better next time. Fortunately we had left a little bit of the lamb and cous cous just in case, so we were able to end our main dish with something delicious.
Wanting to continue with the Middle Eastern theme and feeling that chocolate cake can be had anywhere, I decided we must finish with a platter of homemade Baklava. These were mostly delicious; rich, sweet (a little overly so perhaps) and nutty, though there wasn’t a great deal of variety.
Service was particularly good, made the more so by Dody’s happy presence (including the odd bit of singing and dancing mixed in). We were even offered a shot of some rather tasty Egyptian digestif, followed by a glass of sparkling wine, for no other reason than that we were “a funny couple.” Thanks, Dody, we’ll take that as a compliment!
Price-wise, I would say that for Middle Eastern food, Le Souk is a tiny bit on the steep side, as a meal for two, with only apple juice and a Moroccan mint tea to drink, came to just under $750, but I suppose you have to accept that you’re paying Soho prices, not Moroccan or Egyptian prices. I would definitely try Le Souk again; I think a trip with a large group of friends to add to the lively atmosphere whilst sipping on some cocktails and savouring some (mostly) yummy food would be a great way to spend an evening.
G/F, 4 Staunton Street,
Tel: +852 2522 2128