Infamous for its late night party happenings, loose boundaries and regular episodes of debauchery, Soho is a sprawling metropolis of naughty. I donned my reviewers hat to embark on an immersive adventure into Soho's Lebanese offering, to see if the incense filled air could diffuse the electric atmosphere of London's most renowned district.
Perched quite contentedly upon the junction of Greek Street and Old Compton Street, Maison Touareg finds itself nestled amongst the electricity of London's Theatreland. We enter through double doors and survey our surroundings: tables line the room, dressed quite beautifully in elaborate cushioning and hosting a gleaming selection of crockery and glassware. The venue boasts an enviable selection of Persian style rugs, combining with warm red hues to deliver a comfortable ambiance and a safe retreat from the hubbub that engulfs the area.
The Atmosphere & Clientele:
The atmosphere at Maison Touareg was nothing short of delightful: the lingering scent of sandalwood incense consumed the space, evoking age old memories of trips to Middle Eastern regions and sparking a fiercely pleasant nostalgia. The restaurant maintained a gentle buzz throughout our visit, attracting a mixed crowd of early evening amblers, hungry for a taste of something exotic.
We arrived on a Tuesday night, so we were not treated to the live entertainment that befalls guests towards the end of the week. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, belly dancers wriggle their way through tables to build a vibrant atmosphere as patrons finish up their supper. The vibe was far gentler on our visit, and we enjoyed a relaxed meal as we watched the world go by from our window seat.
The Food & Drink:
Presented with a menu of Lebanese dishes and delights, we were somewhat overwhelmed; keen to get involved in their extensive meze of starters, but reluctant to fall into the ever so common trap of over-ordering, we relied upon the advice of our water to offer some gastronomical insight.
We began with a mixed meze of hummous, tabboulueh, batata harrah (a punchy offering of sauteed potatoes), pastilla of chicken and a chilled vegetable moussaka; whilst the portions were vast, their flavours were rich and the ideal starter and subsequent side dish to our shared main. We opted for the lamb shank tagine, slow cooked amongst a mix of cinammon, honey, prunes, almonds and showered in rosewater. Our main offered a delightful and wonderfully tender cut of meat, perfectly complemented by the sweetness of the stew.
As I was soon to discover, Maison Touareg is something of an anomaly on the Soho scene; rather than subscribe to the genre so expected of this West End hot spot, this Soho bar and restaurant is a rare episode of calm. Maison Touareg has penetrated the throngs of bad behaviour so typical of Soho's Greek Street to deliver an intoxicating mix of soft lighting, flavourful treats and premium service.