★★★★ Ishbilia's location is excellent, but it is a small place. It is next to Sheraton Park Tower hotel, which hosts a lot of guests from Arab countries, hence a steady row of take-outs to the hotel. During the Ramadhan, Ishbilia also provides catering for the iftar at Sheraton Park Tower. Within half a mile, there are more than 5 other Arabic restaurants: Beiteddine, Ranoush, Masgouf being the first to come off my memory.
The quality is very good, the starter selection is a delight in itself. We ordered hummus, muhammara, lahm bil ajn, an aubergine salad, pickles, moutabal, and all were delicious. The bread that came with starters was right from the restaurant's own oven. We were also served a salad "from the house," and the table had a plate full of lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, fresh onion and cucumber. Despite eating a lot from the starters, I did not feel full at all, which I attributed to the high quality of the food and their freshness. There was a minor problem that could be a sign of larger problems with the cleanliness of the place, but I will not go into detail, as it might well be due to bad luck. When we asked the waiters if their meat was halal, he replied "Insha'allah," and the lamb kabab surely tasted delicious, but it was not exceptionally tender. With two main courses, each at 12.50 pounds, a dinner of two adults and one child cost slightly more than 60 pounds. The starters could have been a bit cheaper, or they could offer a fixed price mezzeh selection. After being fed up with an endless array of "fish and chips" and "spaghetti napolitana" at the hotel, such a splurge can be justified, but not on a regular basis.
Finally, I would like to mention that Ishbilia has a larger place in the Harrods store. Posted on June 12, 2008