About this blog

The expat has returned from voluntary exile and finds herself with a new domain to discover: London.


Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Hurry along to Yalla Yalla

I tend not to venture into central London if it's avoidable. The crowds of tourists and shoppers are too much to handle at the weekend, so even if staying away means no visits to the flagship of my beloved Topshop, it's a price I'm prepared to pay. But when L and M suggested meeting centrally for a week day lunch, I decided a little horde-braving could do me no harm. The idea of finding good food on a budget seemed more challenging though, especially if something a little more substantial (and sedentary) than a take-away sandwich was required. Food blog Gourmet Chick came to my aid, suggesting Lebanese cafe Yalla Yalla just off Soho's Brewer Street as a central spot for a cheap, cheerful and tasty lunch.

Pocket-sized Yalla Yalla (Hurry up in Arabic) claims to offer Beirut street food, although if the smart interior is anything to go by, its offerings are a cut above a falafel stall when it comes to presentation. The small space is deocrated in minimalistic monochrome with splashes of yellow, with rustic-effect wooden tables and keffiyeh-style cushions: definitely a step up from your average dark and poky Edgware Road Lebanese. Seating around 25 diners, booking is  advisable in the evening, when it becomes a popular pre-theatre pit-stop, but for lunch you simply have to take your chances or make do with take-away. Arriving early, we were in luck: and were so excited by our good fortune that we overlooked the lunch special offer chalked on a board outside. For £5.50, you can get your laughing gear around a wrap of your choice accompanied by either a dip or a salad. We went for mezze instead, although glancing around our fellow diners, the mains on view made me think another visit is required. Around 20 mezze are on offer, with a good balance of meat and vegetarian options and priced from £3.50-£4.50. Perusing the menu as we chomped on the complimentary chillis, olives and an unrecognisable pink vegetable which L proclaimed 'the saltiest thing on the planet', decisions were difficult to make, but we finally settled on the classic choices of houmous and falafel, tabboule, halloumi and soujoc (spicy sausages), accompanied by pitta bread and washed down with orange blossom lemonade (£1.90).

Mezze and L's elbows
The portions were definitely on the petite side, but quality made up for quantity: the sesame seed-topped falafel were delicately spiced and successfully avoided the dryness I've encountered at other Lebanese restaurants. I can't speak for the sausages, but the creamy houmous, moreish grilled halloumi and zesty tabboule were delicious and wll-presented. Service was friendly and we were even presented with extra bread after L devoured the first basket. And with all that for £22 and no 'optional' 12.5% service charge, I think I've found my central London Lebanese.

  • Yalla Yalla is at 1 Green's Court W1F 0HA. Nearest tube: Piccadilly Circus. Take-away is also available.


  1. Looks and sounds lovely, always good to get a tip on a central London food stop. Will remember for future use.

  2. Yeah, would definitely recommend it if you're in the area - the mains looked great too.