Simply the BESO, Covent Garden
23 Aug 2018
No, really I don’t mind, living in London you can have a different holiday every night of the week. It’s the staycation to make all staycations, you can visit Italy via a wood-fired pizza, NYC via a double decker burger and you can even mirror the airport lounge with a pint in Wetherspoons before the clock has struck midday.
In an attempt to try and stay as well travelled as possible (and I’m not just talking about the move from the Northern Line to the Circle Line here), I visited BESO, chef Khalid Dahbi’s new Moorish restaurant on Shaftesbury Avenue. The web says it’s going to give you a ‘Gastronomic kiss’ from the lands of Marrakech, Spain and Turkey, whatever that means.
The BESO menu is full of small plates. There were crispy chickpeas covered in cumin and paprika (£3.50), so cute and crunchy I would have been happy to pop them in my mouth repeatedly, or take them home and nurture them till they were all grown up and working on the weekend.
Taking me to the sea-side was a delicious mound of smooth smoked mackerel pate (£8) on a bed of beaten apple decorated with crispy bits of melba toast, it would definitely get my five stars and a positive review on Tripadvisor. The mini Moroccan salads on crostinis (£7) were simple yet fabulous, being flavoured with just olive oil and lemon – each one was business class.
The restaurant is gorgeous, undeniably. The skinny room is all white sand floorboards and sea-navy walls, it’s cave like and cosy. If you really want to reach full holidaymaker level you can do as other tourists do and stand in the middle of pavements, stop walking for no reason and take selfies in front of oncoming traffic after you’re done with the meal.
The Americano Sbagliato (£9) and Marrakech Martini (£9.50) cocktails were weekends away with their sweet cherry tonics and Amarettos reminiscent of sticky floors in Zante nightclubs and teenagers making themselves very unwell.
I’m not sure if I felt gastronomically kissed by BESO, because I’m not really sure how a gastronomic kiss is supposed to feel, but I do know the Chermoula hake was a wonderful piece of fish (£12), sunbathing with charred courgettes, spinach and wild sorel cream and even the late to check in berber vegetable tagine (£11) with caramelized onions, prunes and sweet potato got me as excited as a free upgrade to the room with a view.
An evening at BESO is a real ticket out of here, a passport to culinary paradise, out of office or no out of office there is going to be some jealousy among those who are left behind.