Meza Tooting Awarded Hungry Cyclist Wheel of Approval

Are kitchen shelves bow under the weight of expensive cook-books we rarely use. We ogle at food creations on our TVs that we never recreate and if all the food-bloggers turned on their Mac Books at the same time you would hear the collective chime from Mars. Information about food is omnipresent in today’s multimedia society but the way we consume it has remained reassuringly uncomplicated. Perhaps I get invited the wrong dinner parties, but for all the acres of print, server-farms of data and TV hours dedicated to food content, we seem to love consuming information about food more that the food itself, and more often than not we stick to what we know and keep things simple. We are simple creatures after-all and eating is one of the simple acts vital to our continuation. We know what we like and even when ‘eating out’, although we like to try new things once in a while, it’s often the reliable old favourites that thrive in our communities. For this reason, whether I’m riding my bike through a dusty border  in southern Mexico or cycling down my street at home, my rule of thumb is always to eat where the other beasts are feeding.

A little over a year ago Meza opened on my street. Previously it was a café that was always empty so I never went in. Preferring, instead, to gulp my tea and eat my bacon and eggs amongst the burley, rubble-dusted high-viz men who crammed into the greasy-spoon over the road.( I admit it – it made me feel manly.) Meza was immediately full and so following my simple rule of thumb I joined the other beasts and before long this Lebanese gem that shines amongst the curry houses of Tooting had become a regular.

With no more than 15 covers Meza is small. Tables are tight and the kitchen wouldn’t look out of scale on an aeroplane. But this confinement only adds to the charm of this lively Tooting hot-spot. Dinners are squeezed in tight so that the sounds, sight and smells of the busy kitchen are part of your experience. Jet-black aubergines smoke slowly over open coals. Golden falafel and kibe emerge from the deep-fat-fryers. Minced lamb Kafta Meshwouieh is massaged onto long steel skewers and plates of hummus, moutabal and labneh are garnished with pomegranate seeds, parsley and chunky home made pickles kabiss. Farrouj Meshwoui (grilled baby chicken) hits the grill with a violent hiss. Home-made lamb sausages soujouk send tall flames into the kitchen and ruby-red Lebanese wine pours freely.  The food at Meza tastes as good as it looks! A celibration of simple flavours and textures. A perfect blend of spice and citrus, fresh herbs and dried spice. In my imagination this is how Lebanese people eat at home. All the staff here work simultaneously as barman, cook, waiter and host and their energy and hospitality is infectious. Food arrives quickly, help is always at hand and welcomed by the energetic young owner it’s hard not to feel like a local at this young Tooting institution.

For all the noise made about food in this country its preparation and consumption remain very simple. Eating is essential we all have to do it Meza lays testament to the benefits of keeping this uncomplicated act uncomplicated. Meza is friendly, it’s comfortable, its affordable and it’s very, very good. Simple.


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This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 27th, 2012 at 11:47 and is filed under A to Z of London Food, A to Z Reviews, Restaurant Reviews, Wheel of Approval. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed or trackback from your own site. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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