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I have sat down at a restaurant and thought I should leave because I
feel it is not going to be a good experience, which is exactly what I
felt when we sat down at Al Hamra I at 31-33 Shepherd's Market n
outside tables were set-up for 6 people and there were four of us and
our waiter started to move us toward and table where two people were
already sitting, but there was no gap between the tables and I said
no, as this was not Wagamamas. The waiter moved us towards an empty
table without a smile but with a look of disdain as if to say who are
we to decide were to sit.
there it went down hill. The spirits were being charged at £7.50 and
I asked if they were single or double measures and our waitress
didn't know, but also didn't offer to find out. Whilst looking at our
menu we noticed a small note on the front cover of the menu saying
there was a minimum spend per person of £25 excluding drinks. Now I
appreciate with outside tables that they don't want people to take up
seats to have coffee, but what a cheek to say a minimum spend. It
meant you had to have a starter and a main course, because there was
only one dish, Dover sole, that was more than £25. There was a
discussion about whether we should leave or stay, but we decided to
stay. A plate of crudities was brought to our table which was colourful
and fresh. We thought it was a nice gesture, until much later when we
got the bill we saw that we paid £2.50 per person as a cover charge
for this, oh this also included some flat bread.
ordered three starters, falafel (ball or patty of chickpea deep
fried), kibbeh maklieh (ground lamb meatball with spices) and fatayer
(spinach, pine nuts and onion in a pastry) The falafel and kibbeh
where warm and tasty with a nice hint of spice, both had a crispy
coating from the deep frying and were not greasy. The fatayer pastry
was soggy and you could only taste the onion in the filling as the
spinach and pine nuts were tasteless.
ordered samakeh harrah (baked trout with tomato sauce) and my friends
ordered kafta yoghurt (spiced diced lamb with yoghurt), kafta
antabieh (spiced ground lamb on a skewer and bbq'd) and veal
escalope. The trout had been filleted and was moist, tasty with a
wonderful pinkness to the flesh, but the sauce was totally
overpowering and destroyed the delicate flavour of the fish. The veal
escalope was over cooked and too dry and my partner said it was very
bland. The kafta antabieh was well cooked with wonderful aromatic
flavours. The kafta yoghurt was also tasty and the lamb was fresh and
we finished our meal the dishes were left on our table for about 30
minutes and we ended up moving them to the spare two seats on our
table. Eventually the staff got the hint and removed them.
staff were miserable and standoffish. At one point I went into the
restaurant to use the toilet. I asked a member of staff were the
toilets where and he just ignored me. I politely but forcefully asked
him again telling him not to ignore me and he just pointed to some
stairs, although his colleague did apologies. The only saving grace,
regarding the staff, was our last waiter, he was very polite and
witty, but by then the damage done.
restaurant must be doing something right because it's been
established since 1984, so you can't argue with it's longevity,
especially for a restaurant in fickle London. Just because they are
located in Mayfair, a very expensive part of London, doesn't mean you
can treat people like something the dog dragged in. We all agreed we
would never go back as there are much better Lebanese restaurants in
London, whose food and service is much better and at cheaper prices.
Our total bill came to £196 for 3 starters and 4 main courses with
no wine, but with 10 beers and 2 barcardi and cokes, which we all
felt was far to expensive for what we received. There is a better
middle eastern restaurant around the corner from Al Hamra, calledSofra where the food and service are much better.