With outposts in Riyadh, Jeddah and Al Khobar this is the first UK location for the luxury Armenian eatery.
In any other part of town, Lusin might stand out, with its vast, arched, plate glass windows and oversized bank vault-like golden door, but it fits right in amongst its glitzy neighbours on Hay Hill. Rather mortifyingly, we have no idea how to open the door – the attentive front of house team spring into action assisting us though, sparing our blushes by insisting that we are not the first.
The restaurant, which opened in Mayfair last October, has a menu overseen by two Michelin starred Marcel Ravin, so it’s fair to say that we are excited to try the food – though neither my companion nor I are entirely sure what to expect of Armenian cuisine. And the mysterious sounding menu doesn’t make things especially clearer. We decide to request a selection of house specialities to give us a picture of what Lusin is all about; our waiter is only too happy to assist.
We start with a glass of wine; the Voskepar, from the Voskevaz winery is an oak-aged white. Almost golden in colour, it is complex and fruity and the perfect complement to our appetisers. The traditional mutabal arrives smoking dramatically under a glass cloche, which is removed with a theatrical flourish to release the most incredible smell. As the smoke subsides we discover divinely smoked aubergine mixed with creamy sesame paste and yoghurt; we pile it high on pillowy warm pita bread and tuck in hungrily. This is accompanied with sujuc rolls – sujuc, we are told, is a dry, spicy beef sausage. Here, it is served in little pinwheels of crispy bread, drizzled with a moreish molasses sauce and pomegranate seeds. We fight over the last piece. There is also a deliciously fresh tasting salad of beetroot and feta.
The mains have much to live up to, but we are not disappointed. The sheesh tawook comes on a tabletop brazier of hot coals, and the chicken is tender and perfectly cooked. Meanwhile, the cherry kebab, a speciality, consists of delicately spiced, charcoaled veal skewers in a sweet, piquant cherry sauce with pine nuts.
Desserts look as beautiful as they taste. The rose flavoured ice cream comes in a cloud of candy floss strewn with edible rose petals, appealing instantly to our inner child. It is wickedly tasty. The honey cake meanwhile is presented on a gorgeous honeycomb patterned plate and consists of multiple layers of honey biscuit sandwiched between layers of caramel-like cream filling. It may have been our first experience of Armenian food, but it won’t be our last.
16 Hay Hill, W1J (020 8433 9370; lusinrestaurant.com)