At the start of the month we posted that the two of us have made a huge decision to wave goodbye to Dublin and pave a road to a brand new adventure in London. For various reasons since that date, we have been very silent – as you may have noticed. The main reason is that for the first week we were living out of suitcases, trying to get the basics established from a new base. That included the usual errands of organising bank accounts, National Insurance numbers, phones, and most importantly scouting a brand new home in this big city.
For the beginning of our journey we ventured to the South London suburb of Streatham, where Patrick’s sister kindly put us up/put up with us while we got settled (read more about this and our discovery of some pretty epic pizza!). A fairly decent sized town, Streatham is somewhat off the beaten track, mainly because it isn’t on a tube line. But in fact, there’s a lot happening in South London, and we were quite happy to be able to explore a new, unfamiliar area in between meetings, viewings and interviews.
It’s very well connected to Central London from Zone 3, provided you are willing to get the National Rail service, which handily lands you into the transport hubs of Victoria, London Bridge and Blackfriars stations. Buses have a huge frequency in the area, but most routes stick between other nearby parts of South London (Brixton, Tooting, Peckham, Clapham and Crystal Palace). There isn’t, however, a huge amount to see in the area. It’s highly residential with a thriving – quickly gentrifying – high street, so you needn’t venture far for the essentials plus a little extra.
As our stay in this south London suburb was somewhat short, we only ate out on a few select occasions, obviously wanting to pinch our pennies and also repay our hospitable hosts with home-cooked dinners – the least we could do for their generosity.
The first time we ate out in SW16 was after a successful day of re-connecting with the world, by means of getting a SIM card and beginning to set up bank accounts. We passed a place called Beyrouths on our very first night while sussing out the area and a day or two later we were pulling up a chair inside on a warm day. The signage on the windows states their speciality is Lebanese street food- something which we are familiar with in theory, but not too much in taste.
All the usual suspects are present: kebabs, falafel, flat breads, hummus. What appealed to us the most was the lunchtime sharing platter – emblazoned upon a blackboard outside and flirting with passers-by thanks to its competitive lunchtime price. The sharing platter for two, costing only £9.50, consisted of healthy portions of fresh, large falafel, smooth hummus, spicy cubes of batata harra, warek inab (stuffed vine leaves), sprightly tabouleh and a main of chicken shwarma to share.
Being the greedy pair we are, we also ordered a side of chips with hummus – unaware and anxious about the platter being sufficient enough to satisfy us both. To drink, Patrick ordered a fresh apple juice and Russell went for a sweet and sour pink lemonade. Our side of chips were on the table before the juice was, as they squeeze every bit of fruit to order. We find the word “fresh” is bandied about by to overkill effect these days, however, here it was the most legit usage we have seen in sometime. Fresh fruit, green herbs, warm flatbreads – it’s as fresh and authentic as you can imagine!
It was rather quiet when we visited, as it was a mid-week lunchtime, but it appears to be the type of place that would get busy on the right kind of evening. It’s very satisfying food, and really requires the use of your hands at all times. Beyrouths is perfect for those afraid to try new things and is a welcome and simple introduction into the world of Lebanese cuisine…