Arabian days, Arabian nights, Arabian kind of mid-afternoon-ish and Arabian mornings. If anyone has stuck to time-honoured interiors, it was clearly Kenza. Descending a lamp lit, bejeweled staircase into the venue below, Kenza was nothing short of etched, eccentric luxury.
Split between three stunning main areas, the bar, and two dining rooms, this Middle Eastern is home to none other than some of the most stunning furniture and awnings around thanks to engraved benches, embossed flecks of candlelight and more prosperous caramel hues than Goldie with a torch for a tongue. Attention to detail was second to none, as lamp-lit nooks, Bedouin-style booths, low lighting and the scattering of Hamsa hands made for a proud enviroment.
More like a trip to Abu Dhabi than the 141 bus to Liverpool Street, Kenza is a word synonymous with 'treasure' for a reason, you'll want to make like a pirate, and make off with it all. Just don't, i've seen how theft fares in Aladdin.
Impassioned interiors at Kenza make for a truly unique dining experience in the heart of Liverpool Street.
The Food and Drink
Where to start and where to end can seem like bit of a booze flavoured blur at Kenza, but thanks to some pretty informative staff and a thought out 'Feast' menu, hair pulling didn't have its day. With a selection of set menus that range from £30 upwards (for three courses), you're looking at hefty courses of brimming Lebanese fare.
Kicking off with a traditional mezze, we were hooked. From the fresh and citrus Tabbouleh and spicy sauteed potatoes (Batata Harra), to an enviably whipped Baba Ghannouj; a golden etched plate made a home for what might be the best mezze i've ever had, and the first one i've been unable to finish due to sheer size. Tempted by the Mashawy main of Kafta Lahme, Shish Taouk and Laham Meshwi, Feast #3's meaty interval was fresh, subtle and packed with Lebanese intricacy. Ending on the sugared and overtly rich Baklawa, fresh fruit and a spot of mint tea, Kenza promised i'd be full. I Violet from Willy Wonka'd my way out of there.
As for the drinks...... the cocktails, do these. While their 'Posh Mojito' was slightly overpacked with brown sugar, as can often be the case with a Mojito, the tart-punch made it all the more worthwhile, with star of the cocktail show coming in the shape of their 'Rihana' (£9.95). A blend of bison grass vodka, apple juice, basil and caster sugar, this feels like a Mojito's flirty and fresh sibling.
While I was markedly surprised at how quiet the restaurant was, the lack of on-road location and hidden gilded door could make up for this, as service and food certainly couldn't have sent people scarpering. That said, Kenza is amorous. While plenty of chums had made their way for a social media sneak of belly dancers, the room was laced in crooning couples looking to grab fragrant and rich food over candlelight. If you're not holding someone's hand in Kenza, you're likely doing it wrong, but don't forget that waiters probably need both of theirs.
Belly dancers seemed to be a staple at Kenza, and while regular arrivals made for clapping, restaurant spirit, and some awkward shimmy shaking, they didn't interrupt the meal enough to see them as a bosom laced burden, which can often be the case.
Middle Eastern authenticity seems second to none at Kenza, which is why I see it as such a success. Rich, extravagant and likely to hold a heap of engagement parties under their wings, Kenza isn't pub comfortable but it's a mark maker in terms of lavish dinner lapping. While the price tag is likely on the higher end for some, value for money is reasonable, and someone needs to pay for all that damn pretty furniture now don't they.