74 Kings Road, Chelsea, London, SW3 4TZ
t – 020 7584 1873
w – www.aldar.co.uk
First things first. I like to think that I approach life with a cheerful disposition. That I am positive and upbeat. That, dare I say it, I want sunshine to rule the day. My boyfriend would surely scoff but then he has seen me fly into foot-stomping huffy little rages because I can’t fix my puncture or because the jelly hasn’t set in time to scoff for pudding. But that’s by the by. I like being happy, nice and not moaning on (too much).
However. Some things in life sorely test this. Buses that aren’t even full and drive past without stopping when you’ve already been waiting 25 minutes in the rain, cretinous idiots in the Question Time audience who talk about prisoner’s getting a playstation in their cells because of human rights legislation and, it would seem, a lunch at Al-Dar II.
It’s one of those places that I repeatedly walk past on the Kings Road that I have never bothered to go into – mostly because about 95% of the shops and bars on the Kings Road are either fully of braying Sloaneys (yes I’m talking about you Henry J. Beans) or so ridiculously expensive that it is literally a waste of time even looking at their wares – but to say thank you to a girl at work who had helped us on a big project my boss and I decided to head there on Thursday for lunch.
It didn’t get off to a great start when our sullen waiter gave the table he had promised us away to another bunch of diners and then squeezed us onto another one which was already occupied by a lady who had been enjoying some solitude. It ended poorly when, upon asking for the bill (and yes, doing that pretending-to-write-on-your-hand sign language that EVERYONE seems to do when asking to pay) the very same waiter looked at me like I was an oikish little upstart before skulking off in the most obnoxious fashion.
In between? We were served some diet cokes, a plate full of pretty tender but not much better than kebab-house meat, some perfectly fine pitta breads and a plate full of hummus that tasted of air and distinctly average pastries and salad. The decor in Al-Dar is rubbish too. Dreadful kebab-house seating which I guess it would be fair to say is authentically Lebanese, but when you’re paying Kings Road prices (and gee whizz, a quick inspection of the bill revealed that this is indeed the case) a touch more finesse and glamour might have been good.
After the meal I did a quick straw-poll and both of my lunch-buddies Louise and Pete rated it a 6/10. At the time I was thinking it deserved around a 5 and could see why it had earned these middling marks. However, the following morning I re-assessed. And, like Mervyn King downgrading the UK’s economic forecasts, I had some bad news for Al-Dar. The food was OK, it really was and I had a fun and enjoyable lunch. But this was all about the company – about jokes about Auntie’s buns and dirty dancing with MPs – and not about the ambience that the restaurant created. The rude service was shocking and inexcusable and the meal (which came to about £30) nothing less than a rip-off.
So average food, dreadful service and sky-high prices, yet it was pretty rammed whilst we were there and every time I walk past it is heaving. Considering everyone I have spoken to says it has mixed-reviews (a euphemism surely) the great mystery is why this place is still open. A bigger mystery is why anyone who had been there would ever go back.