Ishbilia at Harrods: Exception Food, Exceptional Service!
One of two locations in London, the Ishbilia Lebanese Restaurant in Harrod’s is a great place to take a break from all that heavy shopping or if you are hankering for great Lebanese. Ishbilia is located on the second floor between the rugs/furniture section and luggage/bags section. The restaurant was nearly empty on a Thursday, early evening. Our maître de seated us quickly and our first server promptly served our drinks. Because it was my companion’s first time having Lebanese, we ordered several appetizers.
The food was served on fine white China within a few minutes of ordering and was fabulous! My favorite was the Hummus topped with Diced Fried Lamb and Pine Nuts. Not only very tasty, hummus is also unique as it is typically served in a special bowl different from the rest of the white place settings. According to our host, hummus is traditionally served in a plain brown bowl (sometimes a crock, sometimes plastic) with a cream colored flower painted in the center with its petals extending up to the rim. It is a bit surprising when dishes arrive on fine china with crystal and silver place settings and in then placed in the middle a dark brown plastic bowl holding such a tasty dish!
A testament to Ishbilia’s service to its customers, when I asked our host if I could purchase one of the hummus bowls, I was told they are not for sale but that I could have one as a gift! Now that is service!
Fine Lebanese at Ishbilia (Knightsbridge)
Sister restaurant of the Ishbilia in Harrods, the Knightsbridge location is a bit more elegant but at the cost of warm, friendly service. While seating at Ishbilia in Harrods is pretty much guaranteed without reservations, you will not be so lucky during the lunch and dinner hours at the Knightsbridge location and risk being turned away. The Knightsbridge location also has a nice terrace for dining out during those lazy warm summer days. Although the inside dining area is elegantly set, it is quiet small and cramped.
While the menu selection is the same and the traditional hummus dishes are always served in the traditional brown with cream flower bowl, the service seems more stiff, less friendly. Staff are courteous, and the food is served fairly quickly. However, the service at the Harrods location was such that I felt like a family friend welcome into a Lebanese home for dinner. If you have the option, I would bit my tongue at dinner inside a department store (it is Harrods, after all). The dining area is much larger, there is much more room, and you will have a much better experience. [more ]
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