Monday, March 05, 2007

Hummus. Hmmmm

To Hummus Bros on Wardour Street, Soho, the UK's first hummus bar (according to their sign). Hummus soup, hummus pasta, hummus ice cream - all floated past my mind but mercifully none appeared on the menu.

The thought of a hummus bar a few years ago would have resulted in me gagging, clutching my stomach and running screaming into the night. That was in my salad days (uch, salad with hummus - another bad thought) but now I'm wiser and know the salty, lemony joy of hummus.

Hummus Bros aims at no-frills and hits it squarely: the only main dish on the menu is hummus tarted up with toppings. I had beef stew, my friend had chicken; both came with pitta and we ordered a Greek salad.

The hummus was the revelation. We are so used to that savoury hummus of delis and supermarkets, bitter with citrusy infusions or perverted with peppers and other bastardising vegetables. This was the complete opposite - nutty, sweet, a whole host of flavours underpinning the creamy surface. I confess, at first I was bewildered, upset even - what is this original and delicious impostor? I got used to it very quickly and pushed old hummus out of my heart. How soon love dies!

Admittedly, the beef stew didn't exactly go with the hummus - its savouriness was at odds with it - but it was very filling. The Greek salad was crisp and feta-ful too, so no problem there.

It's not best practice to move your diners halfway through the meal, but the waiter (the owner's brother) was sweet about it and bribed us with free dessert. Who could resist? The service is in fact a high point - they're very solicitous, whereas elsewhere on Wardour St you can be burning and the staff won't look at you.

It was a good idea for us to move: dessert was delicious. There was a chocolate brownie verging on a cake-like consistency, warm, moist and beautifully sweet, and malabi, which is a milk pudding similar to creme caramel. This came with tar-like date honey, whose density contrasted well with the light milk pudding.

Deserving of mention is Hummus Bros' carbon neutral commitment, which a large poster announces in the dining room. If true, it's admirable.

Anyone who's dipped a toe in the water of hummus (oh lord, what a metaphor) should venture down to Wardour St. It's hardly Gordon Ramsey at Hummus Bros, but it's a simple idea carried out with gusto and flavour.

£20 for two.

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