A fine-dining Lebanese restaurant in Billericay with traditional ingredients at its heart

It had been a few years since I had eaten in a Lebanese restaurant, and I definitely had to travel to London for the pleasure. But here we were, excitedly hurrying down an Essex high street to our table at Layalina, an authentic-yet-modern Lebanese restaurant in Billericay. Layalina has a sister restaurant in Knightsbridge, so expectations were through the roof for this one.

The restaurant is smart and unassuming from the outside, but the interior feels sleek and contemporary with a luxurious back-lit bar welcoming you in. As we took our seats, I told my guest about how the website boasts of ‘delicious hand-crafted cocktails’ – so we ordered a couple.

Great British Life: Inside Layalina, Billericay. Photo: Kimberley HammondInside Layalina, Billericay. Photo: Kimberley Hammond

We looked over the menu whilst enjoying the buzzy atmosphere around us. It was easy to see why this cuisine has risen in popularity in the UK. On the menu there was an abundance of dishes containing healthy whole grains, leafy greens, fresh herbs, zesty lemon, garlic and honey. The cocktails arrived and they were divine.

As my dining partner is vegetarian, we both admired the many options for her to choose from. We decided to go down the mezze route and order lots of smaller plates to share, making one large meal composed of both hot and cold dishes. If sharing isn’t your thing, there were plenty of larger main-course dishes too. The restaurant describes itself as contemporary Lebanese cuisine, so I had high hopes for some beautifully presented small plates.

Great British Life: Slow-roasted spiced aubergine. Photo: Kimberley HammondSlow-roasted spiced aubergine. Photo: Kimberley Hammond

After a short wait, my expectations were met, and a pretty platter of grilled aubergines were the first to appear. They tasted incredible, softly slow-roasted in delicate spices and topped with goat’s yogurt, aleppo chili oil and fresh coriander. Next came the crispy cheese rolls, which were filled with halloumi, feta and Bulgarian kashkaval cheese, with a roasted red pepper sauce.

We ordered vine leaves stuffed with Egyptian rice, which tasted light and authentic. They were served up with a tomato fondue, mint and lemon dressing. Oh, and not forgetting the delicious falafel and some perfectly chargrilled chicken wings with garlic whip!

Great British Life: A simple but delicious frozen yoghurt to finish. Photo: Kimberley HammondA simple but delicious frozen yoghurt to finish. Photo: Kimberley Hammond

Even though we managed to clear all six plates, I had to order the frozen yogurt dessert, served with gorgeous fresh honey and rose petals – such a simple yet delicious way to end the meal.

Our dinner was satisfying, aromatic and refreshing; the dishes had a fine-dining sparkle but with authentic ingredients at their heart. Perfectly fusing traditional dishes with contemporary presentation and interiors, Layalina is an exciting place to eat and I can’t wait to dine there again.

The bill came to £74.81 (including tip) for two people. The restaurant was not told it was being reviewed.

layalina.co.uk | 01277 714 477