Far away in the Middle East, Villa Mamas restaurant opened in 2012 to great acclaim. The well reputed chef and restaurateur Roaya Saleh opened the Bahraini restaurant and watched as it’s reputation vastly grew over the years. Renowned for it’s fabulously homey feel Villa Mamas gained a substantial following in Bahraini culture (with 35k followers on Instagram and Roaya’s 119k respectively!).
As tempting as it is, we don’t have the time to hop on a plane and experience the dining mecca first hand so we decided to visit it’s Chelsea sister instead, much closer to home. With Roaya at the forefront of the London launch, we knew we’d still be lavishing in an authentic experience.
Her cooking is inspired by days spent on the family farm, and rustling up dishes with her mother and grandmother in their home. As we sit down, she insists we simply must try the Warak Enab to start. Rice, tomato and herb filled vine leaves appear at our table and the warm dish is a perfect entree to our feast.
We continued with a selection of starters recommended by our waitress. The Kaskhee Bademjoon is dubbed Roaya’s famous ‘eggplant explosion’. It’s an aubergine stack layered with caramelised onions, walnuts and whey sauce. We shared this alongside Lamb Kofta and creamed potato, and Baba’s Tikka and Hummus which we’re assured is the best in London.
Our main dish of Halibut Sabzi arrived and proved to be the menu’s stalwart. Served on a bed of fragrant herb pilaf, and doused in spicy green sauce we ‘mm’d’ and ‘ahh’d’ our way through the entire plate.
The Tahcheen is a force to be reckoned with. It’s a mountainous saffron rice cake layered with jewel spiced chicken, pine nuts, barberries and served with a subtle yoghurt. This is definitely one to be shared due to the sheer size of it.
There’s a lot of ‘must-try’ items on the menu but if there’s one thing you ‘must-must-try’ it’s the Turkish Delight cocktail; rose, pomegranate and lemon, with a splash of vodka and tequila rose. It’s a real sensation albeit dangerous, as it certainly leaves you wanting more.
We round up dinner with a coffee and browse around the in-house shop, which led to a few delectable purchases. Who could resist beautifully bottled rosewater, herbs & spices and Villa Mamas famous cherry molasses. All items make perfect gifts or even better, if you just fancy treating yourself.
25 Elystan St