Earlier this week I went for dinner with the Mr and some friends at Kenza on Devonshire Square.
Being a tastecard member, and having heard good things, I'd been meaning to try it for a while and this double dinner date was the perfect opportunity as it was pretty central for us all, and is only stumbling distance to Liverpool Street for the last train home.
Booking wasn't quite as simple as I had hoped. First I booked through Open Table which was quick and easy, to start with. I requested a booth but couldn't book any kind of deal nor check the T&Cs of the tastecard usage, so I called the restaurant directly to check, whereupon I was greeted by a stubborn and highly rude employee who was happy to let us cancel the booking all together rather than let us use my card on the booking. The tastecard website states that it can be used for a maximum of two people. Most restaurants accept the card for two people, using either the ‘2-4-1’ deal or 50% off the food bill, and then charge full price for the rest of the meal, which essentially reduces the overall cost for all diners when the bill is split. However, the Kenza representative stated that the card could not be used at all on the table booking as there were more than two people, rudely pointing out that if we didn't like the terms, then she could just cancel the whole booking. Seeing as I'm more stubborn than her, and indeed more stubborn than a mule, I accepted her offer and cancelled completely. Thinking that they must be incredibly busy that night to be able to turn away trade I hastily re-booked a table under the Mr's name, so as not to enter the admin nightmare of finding an alternative restaurant for the dinner date. I felt that my stubbornness shouldn't ruin everyone else's night! So anyway, on arrival I was greeted with an entirely empty restaurant. Clearly they weren't busy, just rude!
From there on in though the evening got much better and so shall this review!
It was a bit tricky to find, but that might be because we were too busy chatting and not paying enough attention to signs and maps, but on arrival it was worth the hunt. Having just come back from the Middle East, it was like stepping out of central London and back in to holiday mode. The decor is amazing with pretty glass and metal lanterns, silk cushions, trickling fountains, colourful tiles and carved wood screens around the booths. They've truly created a little piece of North Africa in the Square Mile.
After the tastecard issue, we settled on the Assaffa Feast which, for only £25 per head included four courses of traditional Lebanese and Moroccan food. I'm not tight, I just like to get a bargain, and by saving money, it means I get to eat out more, and thus have to cook less! Hurrah!
So anyway, the feast consisted of cold starters which included mezzes such as hummus, warm pitas, roasted vegetables, Tabbouleh and olives, followed by warm dishes such as sauté potatoes, chicken wings and deep fried lamb parcels. Following that we were presented with two big morroccan serving plates filled with massive lamb shanks accompanied by mountains of cous cous, figs and pears. I'm not normally a lamb eater, but when in (pretend) Rome and all that. It was succulent and tasty, and the cous cous was plentiful. We had to ask for it to be taken away after a while as its presence on the table was just too tempting and I would have eaten myself in to a carb coma!
After a small break we were then presented with a fresh fruit platter with orange blossom water, baklava and Turkish delight which was all delicious. We accompanied all this with yummy cocktails (and few mocktails, just to give them a go) and some great laughs as the belly dancers wiggled and jiggled in front of us, and dragged one of the (male, obvs) diners up to join her.
I have to say the service was incredibly slow considering how quiet they were, and the staff required a few nudges to get things moving, however when they were at our table they were all polite, helpful and attentive. There was no sign of Bad Telephone Attitude Girl on the night though, so that's a good thing.
As I've mentioned before, I always have to check out the loos as well, it's part of the "venue scouting" routine that's been drilled in to me, and I can report that these were good. In keeping with the overall design, a bit funky, a bit dark, but overall clean and with nice smelling hand wash. No hand cream though – so they lose a Toilet Star for that!
Would I go back? Definitely! I'd probably have a few drinks at the bar as well, despite the slow service and the rude welcome on the phone, the food was yummy the setting was great for getting out of my "city" headspace for a few hours and the belly dancers made me laugh.
All in all a good night out.