Liban Tapas is a new stylish Lebanese restaurant in South Woolford. It specialises in making classic, delicious, and healthy Middle Eastern dishes within a cosy and trendy setting. We speak to owner Emilio Malik who takes great pride in creating a relaxing dining space with brilliant food ingredients are sourced from Lebanon.
G: Tell us about LibanTapas, what inspired you to start it?
E: I was inspired by the influence that the French had from their 40 year rule of Lebanon. They altered the culture, food and lifestyle which led Beirut to be dubbed the Paris of the Middle East. This inspired me to bring something new and different to East London so I launched Liban Tapas with Liban meaning French in Lebanese, and tapas being small plates which would be served back in the Middle East.
G: What is unique about your restaurant?
E: At Liban Tapas we have four magical dining areas – our outdoor terrace, sunroom, cocktail lounge and restaurant. We have created an oasis of calm within the hustle and bustle of London, allowing you to relax and truly enjoy your food. I think we have redefined how the modern diner should enjoy and experience Lebanese food through our carefully curated atmosphere.
G: What is your signature dish that everyone has to try?
E: That’s a tough one! Our hummus and falafel are made fresh on site every day and we think this attention to quality is what makes them so delicious and our customers seem to think so too as these are our most popular dishes.
G: Why did you choose East London to open up the restaurant?
E: I opened my first Lebanese restaurant as we had many Middle Eastern clientele coming to Caffé V from Selfridges and Mayfair. They would often ask if we would serve Lebanese food so I started my journey to introduce simple Lebanese food. I visit Lebanon each month and travel with the chefs to source new products and create new dishes. This led to the launch of Lazeez Tapas in 2014. This proved successful so we were approached by the owners of Boxpark who asked if we wanted to create something smaller, which led to the opening of Lazeez Tapas Kitchen.
Having established ourselves within Shoreditch I felt we could go one step further and open up a full scale restaurant in East London as the demand for quality Lebanese food was definitely there. This was the start of Liban Tapas!
G: How did you convert your passion into a business?
E: I was introduced to the Illy coffee family at their head office in Italy in the late nighties through a family friend who owned a cafe in the area. I was keen to learn more about the hospitality industry and the renowned Illy Caffé provided an opportunity to do so. As a result, in 2001 I launched Caffé V on Rathbone Place which led to three further central London locations. For me, as someone in the hospitality industry, I just want to see people take some time out of their busy day to relax, smile and enjoy some great food – I will always want to keep doing this!
G: What would you say has been the most memorable experience while developing this business?
E: I can’t pin point one experience but I have loved the journey. Everyone has been so supportive. I live in East London near Liban so it’s great to see the community behind me.
G: What are your future plans?
E: Nothing set in stone at the moment! I just want to keep the momentum going across our three restaurants, continuing to share our wonderful Lebanese cuisine with everyone and sharing the culture through our reimagined dining experience.
Facebook: Liban Tapas