Lunch at Lavash

All the way to Lavash, my mind conjured up images of soft breads and fabulous dips. If only Chennai was blessed with a Mediterranean type climate as well. Wishful thinking!

Inside the restaurant, soothing shades of blue and green cooled us down immediately. Simple table settings and wall decor added to the idea of informality.

On the counter, stoppered glass bottles filled with various oils were arranged neatly. Middle Eastern music put us in the mood for a relaxed lunch.

The menu is quite impressive and has a good mix of  various Mediterranean cuisines which include Moroccan, Turkish, Lebanese, Armenian cuisines, even Greek and Italian. Vegetarians will certainly not be disappointed with what's on offer.  

The meal started with a selection of pickles- chillies, radish, cucumber and carrot, and a basket of bread- crisp lavash sticks dusted with za'atar and triangles of foccacia.  

It was followed by an amazing soup made with roasted tomatoes and thickened with fennel. Topped with a dash of foam, it tasted sublime. Accompanying the soup was a slice of toasted bread with a vegetarian tapenade.

We were served a mixed mezze platter. The cold mezze selection had hummus, a refreshing tzatzikimuhammara, muttabal and babaganoush- both aubergine based, tabbouleh and some interesting dolmades. All the dips came with a garnish and I liked this attention to detail. I found the hummus a little stodgy but the others were true to form. The breads that accompanied the platter were thin and soft and dried out quite soon. The platter serves 2 and was just right in terms of quantity.

The hot mezzes included harissa marinated winglets, lamb kibbeh, cheese sambousak and falafel. As is customary, it was served over pita breads. The cheese triangles were absolutely delicious, the pastry crisp and light and the cheese filling deliciously tangy. The winglets were a tad tough, and not as spicy as I thought they would be. The kibbeh  was hard but the falafel more than made up for it. We loved the texture of crisp outside and soft beany inside.

About then, a delightfully thin crust pizza was served. It's one of those pizzas where the cheese is stretchy, the tomato base perfectly flavoured and you make a spectacle of yourself licking your fingers because how else can you clean up the last of the smears from your fingers?

For the main course, we decided on a lamb tagine with prunes and almonds. What's a Mediterranean meal without one of those?

The long, slow cooking had resulted in fork-tender lamb and the sauce had a wonderful richness and depth of flavour though I did miss the tang that a bit of preserved lemon would have added to the dish. However, the soft, fluffy couscous was the perfect mop up for the savoury sauce.

Dessert was pannacotta and creme brulee. The star anise pannacotta, served with a raspberry coulis, was simply out of the world, the flavour of the star anise barely perceptible. The creme brulee came with the mandatory burnt sugar crust, but it was disappointing- it tasted eggy and was a tad overdone.

Only two other tables at the restaurant were occupied, I guess it's a nice space for an unhurried  lunch with a bunch of friends. Service was good, though I did hear the ladies at the next table murmuring about how much time it was taking for their orders to be served.

As for me, if I have a craving for Mediterranean food, it will result  in a trip to Lavash.

Lavash is at No. 9, 3rd Floor, Oyster, Khader Nawaz Khan Road, Chennai.

The restaurant is now shut down.


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