As a Fancy, others expect you to “be in the know” when choosing a restaurant for a Saturday night date with friends. Even when the friends are also Fancy, the task usually falls to us. I’m never sure why. Could it be the 250 cookbooks in our kitchen, our personal relationship with people in the industry or simply the size of H’s waist? However it happens, I don’t mind. I like control.
After a week of hounding H about where he’d like to go and getting a lot of static in response, I offered up a few cuisine options to our companions. “Lebanese” was the response. I was slightly disappointed; I’d suggested Yakitori in a show of support for our very wet and shaken neighbours to the east. But Lebanese it was. I hesitated to go all “Maroush” on these people. After all, anyone knows that Edgeware road is where you go for Middle Eastern. But I wanted to push the boundaries. As far as Paddington. I know. Living on the edge.
There is a restaurant called, “Massis,” over in the Sheldon Square business area just north of Paddingon Station. H and I had been once before and the food was fantastic. The problem was that the restaurant was empty. I mean empty. Like the entire kitchen had nothing to do but stare at us while we ate. That aside, best damm spicy hummous of my life and I was itching to give it another go.
I first mentioned it to H.
“Empty. We won’t look good,” was his response.
“But dear, it’s clearly a place that gets more weekday action than weekend and the time we visited London was actually completely snowed in and you could probably have gotten a table at Claridges that night with 5 minutes notice. Let’s try.”
So I called our friends and gave them the address. I added a little “full disclosure:”
“So hey, listen, we’ve been there and the food is fantastic. But the place was a little quiet. Excellent food, but I can’t promise you much of a scene. Just so you know.”
Gracious as they are (and thrilled to live only 5 minutes from the restaurant), they reassured me it was not a problem and we’d have a lovely, peaceful meal, just the four of us.
I should probably interject here. Did anyone else know that we’re celebrating the Middle Eastern New Year?
The food was, as promised, excellent. From spicy hummous, to grilled aubergine, to the little pickled turnips and hot peppers. I could even go so far as to say that my grilled prawns were some of the best I’ve had. Including ones I’ve cooked myself. Serious char-grilled flavor and perfectly cooked. Everyone was thrilled with the dishes.
As for the scene, well, what could beat a belly dancer getting her groove on in H’s face as he tried to sneak the last of the Kibbeh Kras? Or the parade of kohl-darkened eyes and slicked back guido hair passing our table? I politely declined an offer to join the masses on the dance floor.
I shouted over the din of Fairuz cover songs and snapping fingers.
“Hey, not bad, eh?”
And without even trying, The Fancies hit the biggest social event in London this weekend. I guess it’s my curse. But the restaurant would probably still be fabulous even on a regular day, like the Chinese New Year. Try it.