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This newcomer might look like a café for take outs, but the food at Melabes is far better than the casual setting suggests. The bustling ground-floor, with its brick walls, filament bulbs, bistro chairs and green banquettes is the natural place to drop in for lunch, but make the effort to go upstairs and you’ll find a proper dining room if you have time to linger. House speciality pitta (baked in house) is the natural lunch option, from a properly made beef and lamb kebab heady with tahini to a not-for-the-fainthearted banana and toffee number, but we’d recommend coming in the evening (Melabes is licensed) and constructing a mezze meal of three or four decently sized plates.
Excellent hummus comes with even-better chilli and lemon sauce for pitta dipping, chunky falafel taste fresh rather than too fried, while ‘arias’ involve triangles of toasted pittas deep filled with spring onion and minced lamb. Vegan-friendly options include a hunk of chargrilled cauliflower and a beautifully textured coconut and rose-water dessert that manages to be both sweet and refreshing; we also loved the fresh mint and lemongrass tea. Down at the bottom end of High Street Ken, Melabes is the perfect lunch spot if you’re visiting the nearby Design Museum, or you could construct a lovely spread to take-away and picnic on in Holland Park over the road.
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