new lebanese restuarant in luton
Mashwi – Lebanese diner, Crawley Road, Luton
(01582) 72 38 38
Lebanese on the Streets of Luton
by Kaleem Raja
The opening of a new diner is always a momentous occasion....Well, it is for someone like me who eats enough to fill a Trojan horse! If you also like a good helping of exotic food in a generous-sized nosebag, do saunter down to Crawley Road and have a little mini-banquet at a new Lebanese restaurant called Mashwi. It supersedes the other unfortunate chicken and chips takeaway which folded within 5 months flat. It was run by a Polish couple. (If it was the only chicken and chips place in town, it could have worked. But a Polish-run chicken and chips venture trying to operate slap bang in the middle of Bury Park, is like trying to sell WKD Blue and cheese strings in a French market...)
Now, although we already have two other Lebanese places in Luton at the moment down Wellington and Park Street, I think the town’s appetite can more than accommodate another one closer to this end of the town centre. Besides, the former are restaurants more suited to meals out in the evenings and weekends, whereas Mashwi is a diner where you can pick up lunch, snack or a healthy and hearty takeaway meal.
The Mashwi menu is offering fresh wraps, grilled meats and traditional middle eastern meals, as well as catering for junk-food junkies with perennial favourites such as burgers and pizzas with an eastern touch. Culinary delights for your consideration include Lebanese classics such as Chicken Shawarma, shish kebabs, lamb koftas, falafel, humous, Kabsa rice and Lebanese bread.
All the succulent meats are charcoal grilled and the waft of aromatic spices that plumes from the flung open doors flanked with tables and chairs on the makeshift porch is enough to draw in any hungry hippo.
I had the humous and Lebanese bread for starters. The humous was smooth and picquant, drizzled with olive oil and garnished with feathery coriander and slivers of bright burgundy beetroot. The bread was adequate, but not freshly baked, which could be a point of improvement (not to mention showing the menu copywriters how the spell check on their desktops works – lamb liver shish was advertised as ‘lamb lever shish’....tee hee!)
The place also offers some traditional middle eastern desserts and beverages such as baqlawa and laban ayran.
Additionally, there are also some curiosities such as pineapple burgers and lamb stuffed breads. There was also stuffed vine leaf on the menu, which I understood to be a Greek dish.
Mashwi is not a big diner, but impressively punches above its weight. Some mirrors placed on the back and side walls double the modest capacity and the ladybird-red paint and decor makes a bombastic leap into the eyes and consciousness of passersby and would-be clientele.
It slipped my mind to ask if they do that other great middle eastern institution – the bubble pipe, or shisha to give it its more exotic and proper name. I believe its other two more established Lebanese cousin restaurants in Luton do, so I’m sure Mashwi wouldn’t want to play second fiddle to them for very long.
Not quite the exotic ambience nor hustle bustle of Edgware Road peppered with pill-sized mirror-covered lanterns and ornate furniture, but Mashwi makes a bold and welcome debut on the local cuisine panorama...