Layla offers an extensive Mediterranean menu with a focus on mezzes
With dishes like Shrimp Falafel, Tzatziki and Msabbaha, Layla offers an elaborate Mediterranean menu
While there are quite a few restaurants in the city that claim to be serving Mediterranean cuisine, a restaurant that offered an authentic and elaborate mezze menu was missing from the scene. Layla, the newest fine-dining Mediterranean restaurant at The Den, seems like the place that will fill this gap.
The well-curated two-page menu by consulting chef Roy Soffer, an Israeli, focuses on the essentials of a mezze platter like dips, salads, meats, pita bread and offers enough options for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. We started by sampling the cold mezze platter. It included Msabbaha, Roasted Egg Plant, Tabbouleh Cauliflower, Tzatziki, Fried Zucchini, Char-Grilled Bell Pepper, Grilled Asparagus and Calamari Salad.
Msabbaha — a blend of humus, tahini and chickpeas topped with red chilli is a variation of the regular humus. The addition of whole chickpeas and red chilli adds another dimension to it. However, of all the cold mezzes served, we highly recommend the Char-Grilled Bell Pepper and Grilled Asparagus.
Bell peppers are grilled to perfection and the smokiness from the charcoal makes the peppers delectable. And the grilled asparagus topped with parmesan offers a medley of crunchy and soft textures. The hot mezzes that were served to us included Chicken Pastel, Shrimp Falafel, Sardines Shallow- Fried and Malfuf. The Shrimp Falafel cannot be missed. The finely minced shrimp balls coated with roasted sesame seeds were soft and crumbly. The sesame added the required crunch. Next, we tried the shallow-fried sardine topped with finely chopped onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and a seasoning of olive oil, lemon and herbs. We highly recommend this mezze because the fish is marinated well with red chilli and ginger-garlic paste and the toppings add more flavour.
For a punch of spice, don’t forget to request for the zehog, a Yemeni paste made of cilantro, green chillis, olive oil and lemon, with your mezzes. For main course, the chef has kept everything authentic. The Braised Lamb Shank and Vine Wrapped Sea Bass impressed us. The meat is succulent and so well cooked that it falls off the bone. The flavours are tangy and the sous vide saffron and dry apricots add a richness to the gravy that’s enhanced with the meat.
The Vine Wrapped Sea Bass is a must-try because of the excellent marination. Marinated for 24 hours with chuma pepper (a hot sauce from the Libyan-Jewish cuisine), lemon and olive oil, the sea bass is hot, tangy and extremely flavourful.
For dessert, we suggest the Knafeh, an Arabic dessert made with noodle-like pastry or semolina dough. While the authentic Arabic version is a lot sweeter, the flavours of this variant are more subtle. The cheese and nuts stuffing we thought is a bit too much, but nevertheless, the flavours are closest to a Knafeh served in West Asia. With a focus on mezzes and lean meat, Layla is the place to go to for authentic Mediterranean cuisine.
Rs 2,000++ for two. At Whitefield