CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Surrey Life today CLICK HERE

Mezzet Dar, East Molesey KT8 9ER - restaurant review

PUBLISHED: 10:00 08 November 2016 | UPDATED: 10:00 08 November 2016

Smoking rosemary brought theatre to proceedings

Smoking rosemary brought theatre to proceedings

Archant

With summer feeling like a distant memory, Surrey Life restaurant reviewer Matthew Williams seeks an escape to sunnier climes at East Molesey’s hotly-tipped Mezzet Dar – and post-tapas discovers one of the most unusual cheesecakes around. All will become clear…

That dessert... yes, dessert.That dessert... yes, dessert.

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine October 2016

***

Need to know

Mezzet Dar,

39 Bridge Road, East Molesey KT8 9ER

Tel: 0208 783 0149

Web: mezzetdar.co.uk

What we ate:

Tapas

Halloumi on Holidays, £5.50

Fadi’s Favourite Dip, £6.50

Crab Croquettes, £7

Chubby Cheek, £9

Silence of the Lamb, £9.50

Presa, £8.50

Dessert

The Tomato, £5


Drinks

Blanc De L’ Observatoire, Sauvignon/Muscat 2015, £5.30 a glass

Prieuré Château Ksara, Syrah/Mourvèdre 2013, £5.30 a glass

***

REVIEW: Earlier this year, we received a restaurant recommendation that we couldn’t ignore. It had only recently come to light that Hollywood A-lister Antonio Banderas had moved to Cobham, but one dead giveaway was that he kept popping up in random locations locally – without a mask. One such destination was Mezzet Dar, the Spanish/Lebanese tapas hybrid we had been meaning to visit ever since it opened a couple of doors down from its highly-thought-of sister restaurant, Mezzet, in 2013.

Well, now we couldn’t resist and so up it jumped on the Surrey Life restaurant ‘hit list’ to No.1 – and, on a particularly cold and miserable day, my wife and I found our way up to East Molesey.

Located on the impressive Bridge Road, which somehow manages to maintain a little of the hidden-gem feel, despite being only 10 minutes walk from the gates of Hampton Court Palace, the diminutive Mezzet Dar is found directly next door to Le Petit Nantais, a popular French restaurant, and opposite the Hampton Court Emporium, the kind of place where it looks like you could stumble across some long-lost Antiques Roadshow treasure.

Warm welcome

With the pitter-patter of rain searching intently for every gap in our clothing, my wife and I dart inside the door of the restaurant – and immediately escape to somewhere where the thought of warm sandy beaches and cocktails is no longer just a defence mechanism against the cold.

It’s by no means a big place, slim and almost café-like, but it’s welcoming and you can see why its relaxed vibe has proved such a popular addition to its more formal sister site. Realising that Antonio doesn’t appear to be sitting in his favoured library room, a snug addition that you might miss if you only briefly popped your head through the door, we settle at an inviting corner table by the street-side window to watch the world go by.

It’s actually just after lunch, but there’s still a table of animated youngsters, who appear well-acquainted with the place, and a steady stream of other couples who seem to know exactly what they’re looking for. The number of, presumably, regulars who pop in during our visit to enquire about evening tables is also noticeable. This is clearly a place that flows along and begs for return visits.

Even before there’s food on the table, it’s easy to see why. ‘Dar’ is Lebanese for “lounge” and Spanish for “to give” and it has a fun, friendly and easy-going atmosphere that dares you to leave your worries at the door.

As it turns out, the food is very good too. With a glass each of the recommended ‘house’ Lebanese red and white wine respectively, both making a good impression, the bubbly Isabel walks us through the menu options. It takes many exotic twists and turns through – at least I like to imagine – tree-lined, sun-dappled squares... music dances from the fingers of the flamenco guitarist in the corner – hang on, is that Antonio…? Where was I…?

In the end, we settle for a mixture of their recommended dishes, as well as some wild cards to keep them on their toes, and it’s not long before our table bursts into life with vibrant colours and aromas that head straight for the ‘eat-me’ lobe of the brain. In fact, it’s something akin to a Game of Thrones feast, with flatbreads to scoop the popping pomegranates, pistachio, feta and labneh blend in Fadi’s (the owner) Favourite Dip; abundant griddled halloumi with pesto sauce and sun-dried tomatoes; and, finally, crab croquettes off the chef’s specials with a delicious bisque. That’s just round one, and we take our time savouring the dishes, as you should.

I always enjoy tapas, and yet I often forget just how much for some reason. It’s the sense of occasion and, when you pick the right place, the unfussy but unmissably tasty dishes that let the ingredients do the work. Here at Mezzet Dar, they seem to have a happy knack of playing with such simplicity and yet bringing a dose of theatre to proceedings.

On cloud nine

Indeed, our ‘mains’ – and they are very decent portions for tapas – arrive behind a billowing rosemary cloud, as the marinated Scottish lamb is delivered on a burning bed of the herb. While you do take a slightly nervous look around for the fire extinguisher, it’s a delight to the senses. The pyrotechnics are not at the expense of the cooking, however, and just add to the show. Eating out is meant to be fun, right?

The lamb is as good as I’ve eaten (there’s nothing spectacular going on, just perfectly cooked and seasoned meat – it’s easy sometimes, hey?) and the Ibérico pork cheek is also delicious, although the mash with truffle oil is slightly too ‘creamy’ for my liking (you can’t account for personal taste!). Flavour-wise, though, it’s the Presa, Iberian pork loin grilled with oyster mushrooms, that leaps through the alluringly hanging rosemary cloud to steal the show. While this is clearly a very different restaurant experience, this dish reminds me of the first time Fernando Stovell, chef/owner of Stovell’s in Chobham, shaved off a sliver of Ibérico ham for me to try. It’s a magnificent beast, and I’m sure would have headed straight for the top table at a Henry VIII banquet.

For those of a more vegetarian persuasion, fear not, as that is the joy of tapas and there’s plenty to appeal to those not looking to work their way through the farmyard – the ‘courgette flower’ seems to particularly be catching the eye and taste buds of our fellow diners during our visit.

Utterly stuffed, but delightedly so, we’re asked if we’re tempted by a dessert. In normal circumstances, at lunchtime, we’d have declined and left for a wander along the Thames – but it still looks horrible out there and I’m intrigued so blurt out that we’ll share something… “surprise us”.

My inner dessert fiend is somewhat taken aback then when what looks very much like a tomato resting on a bed of couscous appears at the table. “Er, I think this may have been intended for another table?” I query. “Just try it,” Isabel laughs.

With some trepidation our spoons bite into the blushing red skin of the tomato, but instead of a squirting, seed-riddled mess, we discover, well, that it is a dessert after all. In fact, it’s probably the most unusual deconstructed cheesecake I’ve seen to date. A gimmick? Well, yes, but you can’t wipe the smile off our faces – and Sylviane, normally a fan of cheeseboards rather than cheesecake, attacks the dish with the same gusto that I do. Most unique dish of the year so far?! Probably…

Somehow we manage to peel ourselves from our chairs – there is still work to be done, after all – and make our way out into the now surprisingly gloomy day after our holiday with halloumi et al. I’m later told that Antonio popped back in the following weekend. Based on our experience, I’m really not all that surprised. The place is a delight.

***

3 other hotly-tipped tapas restaurants in Surrey

El Pic

• 177 London Road, Camberley GU15 3JS. Tel: 01276 670670

Way back in 1991, this little Spanish tapas bar opened on the London Road in Camberley. Today, it remains the real deal.

De Nada

• 12A Market Street, Guildford GU1 4LB. Tel: 01483 303479

Guildford was already home to the popular La Casita, but the new kid on the block is the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it De Nada.

El meson de Los Hermanos

• 20 Baker Street, Weybridge KT13 8AU. Tel: 01932 851333

Long part of the furniture in Weybridge, El meson de Los Hermanos brings those sun-drenched holiday vibes to Surrey all year long.

More from Surrey Life

Yesterday, 10:53

From Santa’s Grottos, to Victorian Christmas markets and late-night shopping, we’ve covered what’s on in Surrey this season

Read more
Yesterday, 10:47

Whether you're looking for fine dining, pub grub or exotic dishes, eating out in Surrey has something for everyone. Here's our guide to the best local restaurants and pubs

Read more
Yesterday, 10:41

Having bloomed in Brighton’s restaurant scene over the past decade, The Chilli Pickle opened its second site in Guildford this summer

Read more
Mon, 14:32

Historic Royal Palaces and IMG have announced that Kylie Minogue is the first headliner confirmed for Hampton Court Palace Festival 2019. These will be her only London shows of summer 2019. Here’s how you can get tickets

Read more
Mon, 12:56

Enjoy this linear rail to ramble section of the Thames Down Link route taking the short train-ride from Box Hill & Westhumble to Ashtead before walking back

Read more
Mon, 12:13

Great things to do in Surrey this weekend (16, 17 and 18 November): art exhibitions, walks, concerts, theatre, places to visit and other events and ideas.

Read more
Friday, November 9, 2018

We round up 10 of the most beautiful photos of Surrey shared on Instagram this week…

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

It’s that time of year when our beautiful countryside is alight with the colours of autumn. Here, we pick out some of her favourite spots to enjoy the seasonal splendour – as well as some perfect places for a post-walk refresher

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Found on the stretch of the River Thames between Weybridge and East Molesey, Sunbury-on-Thames is blessed with a village feel where it meets the water. From antique hunts to the joys of river life, here are a few of our favourite reasons to visit

Read more
Monday, November 5, 2018

Verity & Violet are Loui and Jess – a singing duo from Surrey who specialise in blending vintage classics with modern favourites. The two have achieved success in the capital, but are now hoping to attract an audience closer to home

Read more
Friday, November 2, 2018

With the Christmas celebrations seemingly starting earlier every year, it all feels a little too ‘soon’ sometimes, but what if you want to look your best for Christmas & New year celebrations and are considering having cosmetic non-surgical procedures? The Bella Vou Pantiles Clinic offers surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures and treatments from a purpose-built private clinic in the heart of Royal Tunbridge Wells

Read more
Thursday, November 1, 2018

Living in England’s most densely wooded county, it’s always a pleasure to witness Surrey donning its autumn finery. Here’s some of the best places to do just that - plus a few pub pit stops to enjoy on route!

Read more
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

We are regularly reminded of the high cost of housing with statistics revealing that only one in three millennials will be able to afford their own home during their lifetime and that most will remain in the category known as Generation Rent

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Year 5 pupils at Reigate St Mary’s School (RSM) who designed and carried out a community project as part of a UK wide Make a Difference Challenge, have won the London area competition for their stunning scrapbook record of their project

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search