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FOOD


BEST LUNCH OF THE MONTH: CEDAR LEBANESE Sophie Kalinauckas tucks into an aMEZEing Lebanese lunch


Wandering through Wimbledon on the way to work I often stumble across new places I’ve not spotted before. Its lunchtime, so I make my way to ‘Cedar Lebanese’ through the busy backstreets of South Wimbledon. What strikes me before I even enter, with its yellow and green sign brightening up Merton High Street, is that it may be one of those ‘gems in hiding’.


It turns out my premonition is right. I’m greeted by Elia, the lovely Lebanese owner, who guides me through the lighted palm trees to ‘the best seat in the house’. With some authentic music in the background and a warm, Arabic-style atmosphere, I’m immediately taken out of my hectic day to a relaxing Mediterranean retreat. As I wait for my friend to join me, Elia offers me some Lebanese wine to try (delish!) and entertains me with his stories of Lebanon, learning to cook with his seven brothers and sisters and how he met his summer sweetheart: his wife and co-owner of the restaurant, Carole.


My friend rocks up as hungry as me, so Elia introduces us to the chef to talk us through the menu: ‘We have a range of meze dishes, fun for you to share. I can prepare something just for you so you can try a little of everything.’


And we don’t hold back. Our meze begins with: hummus, baba ghanouj and labneh dips with my personal favourite, kallaj – grilled bread filled with slices of halloumi cheese and mint toasted on charcoal. My friend and I wanted more so we moved onto the main meze: Lebanese salad, tabbouleh salad, falafel balls, spicy prawns and the mixed grill of chicken, lamb and kofta with rice, onions and tomatoes.


We munched on Mediterranean magic and gossiped away, far from the hubbub of working life. The quality stood out; the food was fresh, healthy and delicious; beautifully presented with a clear attention to detail. With its authentic ambiance, spotless interior, family feel and those unforgettable flavours, Cedar offers a very special lunch. Ready, Meze, Go!


Cedar, Winners of T&L Food Award for Best Local Restaurant and Best Service. TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, OpenTable Diners’ Choice Award, The Food Standards Agency 5 star hygiene rating.


144 Merton High Street SW19 1BA www.cedarrestaurant.co.uk Open Tues-Sun, 12pm-3pm and 6pm-midnight Takeaways, deliveries and catering for parties also available.


BEST DINNER OF THE MONTH: THE OLYMPIC CINEMA Tony Kane sits down to a premiere meal at the Olympic Restaurant


It was almost exactly a year since I had visited the Olympic Restaurant in Barnes for breakfast when it had just opened. I was full of anticipation at the time. Would this new venture flourish? The answer has proved to be a resounding ‘yes.’ The restaurant has expanded from a café style venue to a fully operational restaurant while still retaining some of the informality of the cafe style. The Maître d’ told me that it is necessary to book a table if you wish to eat in the evenings or at weekends; otherwise you will be disappointed.


I chose duck rillettes served with thin toast as my starter. I spoke to the GM Wendy Jagger and asked her about the style of the restaurant. ’It’s British with a touch of Scandinavian, as we have a Swedish chef who likes to smoke his fish on site,’ she replied. My main course was salad gnocchi which arrived promptly. The waiter asked


80 . January 2015 . timeandleisure.co.uk


me would I like a small or large portion. I thought this was good practice as many people watch their weight these days and don’t like to waste food. The restaurant was crowded with people obviously enjoying the food and the busy ambiance with a sense of anticipation as they prepared to visit the cinema.


The Olympic is many things to many people. There is a large hospitality room that has feeling of casual exclusivity for those patrons who have sponsored the venture. After my meal I visited the cinema which is possibly the most comfortable I have been to. The seats are luxurious with plenty of leg room and there is no need to stand to allow people to get to their seats. The sound is perfect, as is the view of the screen.


The Olympic Cinema, 117-123 Church Road, Barnes SW13 9HL 020 8912 5161 www.olympiccinema.co.uk


WIMBLEDON


BARNES


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