Behind the busy and bustling streets of Oxford Street sits an unassuming and unexpected array of restaurants. One such example, located on Winsley Street is Yalla Yalla, an exciting and buzzing restaurant which has a Lebanese inspired cuisine at its heart.
Food - 7.5/10
Ambiance - 8.5/10
Service - 7/10
Value for Money - 7/10
Worth checking out if you’re looking for a middle eastern restaurant around central London!
Price Range: ££
Telephone: 020 7637 4748
Address: 12 Winsley St, Fitzrovia, London W1W 8HQ
Nearest Station: Oxford Circus
Yalla Yalla isn’t a new chain of restaurants, nor is it an established and widespread brand. Instead, with just two branches in operation, Yalla Yalla is a focussed and concentrated effort by its creators turned partners Jad and Aga. It’s aim is to bring a taste of Lebanon to London, in an informal and lively setting.
And suffice to say, they’ve succeeded.
Let’s start with the starter. We went for the Feta Sambussak with a yogurt and za’atar dip. If you’re not familiar with them, the traditional middle-eastern Sambussak is akin to a South Asian samosa. At Yalla Yalla, while we found the taste of the Sambussak great (especially so in combination with the dip), it did leave us longing for more. It was a relatively small starter, but, as an appetizer, it was a good beginning to our meal. If you’re there as a group and order a few sharing plates, you can’t go wrong – but you might be left wanting more if you’re sharing one plate with a partner or a friend.
My main, the Open Chicken Shawarma Platter, came at the same time as the Sambussak and what immediately stood out to me was the Butata Baratta. Chunks of roasted potatoes, excellently spiced with herbs and za’atar, blended in perfectly with the accompanying side of hummus. Reflecting upon this meal, I found the Butata Barrata in combination with the hummus the star of this show; however the chicken was an afterthought. It was relatively tender, but ultimately it tasted too plain for my palette. The pickles were a fantastic addition, which added a refreshing element to the plate – but I found myself left with a lot of unused bread. Perhaps it was the way it was arranged and layered, but the bread often got in the way. I would have prefered if it was offered as a side to the main dish, so that you could easily rip off a section and scoop up some hummus and chicken, but because it was underneath the food I found it difficult to incorporate into each bite. However, as far as the ‘open plate’ goes, it works well for presentation purposes, even if it doesn’t deliver in terms of practicality.
At Yalla Yalla, I found the service to be relatively good. Although it appeared busy for a Wednesday evening, staff were available at short notice, and responded well to queries, but a couple of extra staff would have been useful.
If you’re looking for an informal and quirky eatery, with an eclectic atmosphere, do give Yalla Yalla a try. My meal cost about £16 (not including drinks) – for middle-eastern cuisine in the centre of London that leaves you satisfied, that’s pretty good. You can find Yalla Yalla on Winsley Street, just a couple of minutes off of Oxford Circus station. Be sure to grab some sambussak!