- The Gist: Lebanese pizza called manousheh, which can be eaten all day
- The Chef: Samer and Bassam Chamoun
- Location: 34-43 Russell Street, London WC2B 5HA
- Food in 5 words: Flatbreads with all the toppings
- See more: thelebanesebakery.com
How did we get here?
The UK has lagged behind other places around the world when it comes to Lebanese pizza, known as manousheh: a flatbread baked in ovens and often slathered with za’atar or labneh (a tangy thick yoghurt) – as well as everything in between.
Two years ago, New York’s only ‘manousherie,’ called Manousheh NYC opened in the trendy West Village and since then it has spread across the country, while a big Lebanese population in Australia means it has long been an eat-out option Down Under, where the pizza is known as manoosh.
But the manousheh is finally touching down in the UK. The Lebanese Bakery is a hit in Beirut and owners and brothers Samer and Bassam Chamoun are now pushing their product into London.
It’s no surprise considering the Middle Eastern cuisine market is expected to grow by 10% in 2018 to £143 million, according to a report by MCA, with a focus on traditional food with a modern twist – which is the approach of The Lebanese Bakery.
What’s different about it?
As an international import and small outfit, the food remains authentic and will be cooked in a traditional Arabic basalt rock oven.
Another recent opening, Paramount Lebanese Kitchen, also has the pizzas on the menu, but aims at a broader intro to the food of Lebanon.
The brothers Chamoun have also adapted the manousheh from street-food snack to all-day offering, with toppings for breakfast through to dinner. Its signature flatbread is topped with a spice blend made of dried thyme, sumac and sesame seeds.
Co-founder Samer Chamoun told the Times that he and his brother are food geeks and have invented 12 different options, adding that the pizzas are comforting, not too heavy and use fresh ingredients.
For the health conscious, they are also a good sell, with the average pizza between 350 to 500 calories.
You’ve got to try…
For something less traditional, a breakfast pizza with free-range eggs sunny-side up – with other added extras available like sujuk (a spicy sausage), kashkawan cheese or awarma (bits of lamb preserved in lamb fat).
But if you want to go for something authentic, choose a manousheh with minced meat, onions, tomatoes and green bell peppers.
Sparkie also likes…
The sweet pizza. It’s got halawa, strawberries and pistachios, with a sweet tahini-style sauce.
Halawa is a popular Middle Eastern sweet made from tahini and sugar that is generally flavoured with vanilla and other aromatic essences and has a deliciously crumbly texture. It can be eaten on its own, but is often served on bread in the region.
You want Middle Eastern flavours in one pizza-shaped package.