There’s a welcome addition to Mill Road in Cambridge and that’s Lagona, a new Lebanese restaurant offering good, reasonably priced food. The location used to house Jaffa Net Café but now it’s a bright, cheerful restaurant that includes a separate shisha area at the back, if that’s your sort of thing. A little something for everyone… to me, that’s what Mill Road is all about.
Lagona opened fairly recently, in July 2016, and judging from the steady stream of customers, word has already gotten out that this is a must-visit. They don’t have a website [update: they do now] and have very little social media presence so their custom is basically all word of mouth. That’s a good thing! I recommend this place for a casual, relaxed lunch or dinner. The portions are generous and service is friendly and helpful.
We did encounter some minor problems but not anything that would deter us from returning. I believe the issues stemmed from being rushed in the kitchen, perhaps due to it being busy that evening. I have to say that the staff were excellent in dealing with our complaint and quickly rectified the issue. More on that later.
Paulo and I ordered hummus and falafel from the cold and hot mezze menu. These were our starters and the generous servings made them ideal for sharing. The hummus came with a good amount of pitta bread, which was nice to see. I hate it when restaurants charge extra for pitta bread… how else are we supposed to eat dips? The hummus was fresh and creamy but could have used some depth of flavour, with more sesame paste (tahini) or garlic perhaps. I did notice that the tahini sauce that came with the falafel tasted a bit watered down, so perhaps that was the issue with the hummus. I love that hit of sesame when it comes to Middle Eastern food and I didn’t get that here. The falafel were tasty but a bit crumbly. I think they could have used a few more seconds in the fryer but we enjoyed them anyway.
Lagona’s menu has a varied selection of hot and cold mezze, perfect if you’re in the mood for sharing a few different dishes. I should also point out that there is very little in terms of veggie options in the main courses (mostly chicken and lamb) so the starters are ideal for vegetarians.
Paulo’s main course was the shish tawaq plate, which consisted of grilled skewers of marinated chicken cubes served with a choice of fries or rice (he chose the excellent rice with lamb). There is an option to have some garlic sauce on the side… this is one of my favourite Lebanese sauces so I heartily recommend it. It is very garlicky. The chicken cubes, served without the skewers, were full of flavour but unfortunately they were undercooked, with some raw sections in the larger cubes. This was reported and the manager apologised and quickly rectified the issue, offering Paulo a complimentary plate of hummus whilst he waited for a replacement. He also did not charge us for the dish. We were impressed at the way the issue was handled. When Paulo received his new dish, the chicken was tasty and cooked to perfection so he enjoyed his meal.
Lagona offer lamb and chicken shawarma, spice-marinated meats grilled on their vertical spit, basted in their own juices. I could tell they use fresh ingredients and high quality meat. This isn’t the typical mass-produced “elephant leg” minced up cuts of indeterminate meat. I ordered the shawarma chicken wrap consisting of roasted thin slices of marinated chicken breast, tomato and pickles wrapped in a fresh, toasted pitta. The yummy garlic sauce was served on the side so I could dip as I pleased. I was surprised when the waiter told me the wrap came with paprika-sprinkled fries as the menu did not specify this. Bonus, especially for the very reasonable price of £4.95.
The desserts included baklava but we were too full. Next time! We ordered from their selection of Whittard tea, Turkish Apple which was nice but a little too sweet. I am looking forward to trying the Marrakech Mint. We were shown the tea in its canister so we knew what to expect (it has apple chunks in it). Our bill (minus the shisk tawaq and extra hummus) was presented with two semolina cookies shaped around a date, known as maamoul. A delicious way to end the meal.
The meal didn’t go perfectly due to the undercooked chicken but the issue was handled very professionally and the replacement dish was thoroughly enjoyed. Overall, we had a great experience at Lagona and we look forward to trying more of their menu items. Thank you Lagona for the good food and service. Shukran!
The owners, managers or staff did not invite me to visit this establishment and were unaware that my experience would be the basis of a written review. It is based on my experience at my own cost and I did not receive compensation for my review.
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