Shas created a charming, chic restaurant that, despite its west London location,
has a real sense of authenticity. It has an intensely homely feel, yet it serves thrillingly unfamiliar exotic food.
Mamas interior is clearly inspired by Saleh’s heritage and travels. Traditional Bahraini café style benches line
the pavement for alfresco diners and folding doors line the front, dressed with
handmade Turkish curtains. On a balmy
autumn evening we enjoyed dining half in, half out. The interior has Breccia violetta marble topped
tables, vintage chapel chairs and colourful scatter cushions. Carpets and beautiful tiles adorn the
polished plaster walls. There’s a huge
reclaimed Parisian shop counter laden with Roaya’s homemade jams and delicacies
like rosewater and orange water for guests to take home, each hinting at flavours
Guests on my visit where a mix of young, gorgeous Bahrainis gossiping and drinking Coke, earnest middle-class out to 'discover' and well-heeled Sloaney-types who hadn't fancied cooking at home. Service is bright and effusive. and well-dressed couples sloaney and more earnest after a rather different date.
is so often the case, the best way is to order quite a lot and share. The menu starts out with khubus –
exceptionally light Arabic flatbread cooked in a tandoor. Be sure to order the meyhawa – fermented
sardine sauce endearingly made by Saleh’s Aunty – as an accompaniment besides
menu is reassuringly short, encompassing mezzeh, mains, salads and desserts. Thankfully staff are eager to make suggestions as to which dishes are unmissable, such as the saffron chicken tahcheen.
love the Bahraini inspired choice of cocktails, offered with or without alcohol. A mix of plum, basil, bitters and rum was especially delectable, as were the Bahraini wines.
recognizable dishes with special touches – hummus with tikka lamb, kofte with
cherry jam – sit alongside unusual combinations including aubergine served with
crisp, caramelized onions, walnuts and whey; deliciously creamy yet a little tart and an absolute explosion of flavour. We found ourselves longing for a larger portion. The chicken livers cooked with masala and
vine leaves look grungy yet taste astonishingly rich and tangy. Perfect autumnal comfort food.
standout favourite is the saffron chicken tahcheen. Enough to feed two, it looks sensational and tastes spectacular. It appears as a huge
mound of saffron rice, cooked crisp on top. The long marinated chicken within
is fragrant with cardamom and cinnamon, bejwelled with tart barberries and pine
nuts and served with housemade yoghurt.
are absolutely ace. A gently perfumed
muhalabia rice pudding with rosewater, pistachio and an amazing silky
texture has to be one our favourite desserts of the year. There’s outrageously good,
sweet, almost earthy saffron ice-cream too.
Mama has a quiet charm and joy that should make it a destination as well as a
Price: dinner £100.00 + for two with drinks
|What||Villa Mamas restaurant, Chelsea|
25-27 Elystan Street, London, SW3 3NT | MAP
|Nearest tube||Sloane Square (underground)|
23 Oct 17 – 09 Nov 18, Mon-Sat 8am-10pm Sun 8am-9pm
|Website||Click here to book|