By Paloma Lacy
Lazeez Tapas Kitchen, at Boxpark Croydon, is a bit of a confusing name. This is staunchly Middle Eastern cuisine, which bears no relation to Spanish tapas, with a few Western curve balls thrown in for good measure. I guess the idea was to reflect small plates, but in all honesty the portion sizes are pretty standard for Lebanese fare.
It struck me that this is a quick and easy lunch option for people who want to eat fast, perhaps in time to head back to their desks mid-week.
It’s also rather good value for money – shish taouk, served with Arabic bread and two sides for £7.95 caught my attention. I chose hummus – the smoothest you’ll find this side of Beirut – and falafel with a pillow-like chickpea centre and crispy outer shell. I added my favourite, moutabal, blended aubergine, for an additional few pounds.
There is also kibbeh (lamb meatballs), vine leaves and halloumi to choose from. If you don’t like chicken, then build your meal around a lamb kebab. All of the above can also be added to a wrap or a salad and are authentically Arabic in taste. We also tried the wickedly smooth avocado hummus which, although good, personally I’m happy with the traditional chickpea version.
What wasn’t quite in keeping with regional cuisine was the burger section – lamb, chicken or falafel, which at least are seasoned with relevant spices. Sweet potato fries, seasoned in Lebanese spices, and delicious halloumi fries make a great accompaniment. Rather unexpectedly, the best part of the meal was mango and mint juice – a taste sensation – fresh, zingy and wonderfully naturally sweet in equal measures.
I was the guinea pig for this new addition to the menu. More than likely, it will have been added to the main menu by now.