Everything tastes better on sticks, right? Marshmallows, cocktail sausages, tandoori chicken, cake cut into squares and covered in chocolate and called a 'pop'... see? There's something of the holiday thrills of the 'street' food trend at this Lebanese restaurant with a Brazilian twist, where the meat comes to the table on skewers, fresh from the rodizio grill. The marriage of culinary minds makes sense; the Lebanese diaspora in Brazil is around 7 million, and Lebanese cooking often involves enormous meals with lots of people that go on for a very long time. Rodizio, as here, usually involves an all-you-can-eat arrangement, where the waiters keep bringing you meat until you cry for mercy.
The problem is, it doesn't go far enough. Rodizio has a pleasant corner site on a pedestrianised street around the back of Fulham Broadway, the setup encompassing a large, rather bland but spotless dining room, and a broad terrace with comfortable chairs and banquettes perfect for long, slow shisha smoking. The menu offers mezze, grilled meats and some Lebanese specialities; you can order à la carte, or pay £24 for all-you-can-eat mezze buffet and grill. We tried both approaches. The starter buffet was fine in parts (standard hummus and baba ghanoush, lentil soup and sambousik), less so in others (wilting fattouch salad with no sign of the all-important fried bread). It was basically filler before the meat course, which certainly lived up to its promise – platter after platter and skewer after skewer of tender, well-cooked meat, from sausages to beef to marinated chicken and more. Sadly, only one of us got to try it, as the staff ruthlessly enforced the per-person rule – we wondered if any other restaurant would try telling customers they couldn't take a bite of their dining partner's dish. From the à la carte menu, the offering was more even – squeaky chunks of grilled halloumi with olives, chilli-spiked, lemon-drenched sojouk sausages, and some very competent kibbeh (mincemeat-stuffed bulgur parcels). On a sunny afternoon, wreathed in shisha smoke, taking your time with a light Lebanese beer, this was all very pleasant. Did the rodizio add significantly to the experience of an otherwise standard-issue Lebanese restaurant? No. Did we want the option of some more adventurous dishes, Brazilian or Lebanese? Yes. Still, we'd bet money that on weekend evenings you can expect big, rowdy tables of enthusiastic meat-eaters and shisha-smokers mopping up the well-stocked bar.
By Ellen Hardy