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The Middle East, Without Leaving London

Posted on 2014/06/09 21:51:46 (June 2014).

[Thursday 29th May 2014]
A while back I'd been fascinated to see an advert on the side of a London taxi entirely in Arabic, for what turned out to be the London branch of a chain of Qatari tea houses called Chapati and Karak. Somehow this had bubbled back into my conciousness today, and I decided to go there at lunchtime.

I suspect I was the only person in there who wasn't of Middle Eastern extraction. I ordered one plain chapati, one sweet chapati, and a cinnamon karak. Karak seems to be something like the Qatari version of Indian chai. The plain chapati was indeed just a plain chapati, and whilst pleasantly fresh tasting it really seemed to be lacking something. A curry perhaps?

Apparently the thing to do in Qatar is to have cheese with your chapati, but the waitress was at pains to explain to me as I was ordering that they don't sell cheese. After spending a few minutes there I soon figured out why - just about every customer seemed to be asking for cheese, and one set of customers appeared to have brought there own (Dairylea triangles, which seemed a bit at odds with the presumably otherwise exceedingly wealthy clientèle).

The sweet chapati was more interesting and I was able to eat that without even once thinking how much nicer it might be with some cheese.

So anyway, that was a rather fascinating cultural experience.

In the evening Chie had given me the night off from parenting duties - perhaps advance payment for her upcoming trip to Berlin - so I arranged to go on a short pun crawl with Iain and Robert around Marylebone. I was keen to visit the recently (I think) reopened Barley Mow, with its famous listed booths. It was pleasingly pubby, in a borderline grotty sort of a way. The booths were obviously well used, and a bit shabby around the edges, but that was all part of the charm.

After that we proceeded to the Windsor Castle, a recent favourite of mine, with its eclectic hoard of eccentric nik-nakkery.

After that our thoughts turned to dinner, and as we were near Edgware road a continuation of the day's Middle Eastern theme seemed appropriate. After some deliberation we eventually settled on an Iranian restaurant which actually didn't work very well for me - rather confusingly there were several green Vs on the appetisers page, and nowhere else on the menu. I assumed these to be some kind of mezze, so orderered all of them, to then discover they were essentially all different kinds of dip. Not really a very satisfying meal.

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