We knew the Lusin concept was launched a decade ago as the first Armenian restaurant in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with outposts in Riyadh and Jeddah and, as of last week, tucked away on Hay Hill in London’s Mayfair, a stone’s throw from the Royal Academy.
Restaurant of the Week: Lusin, Mayfair
9th November 2022
This foodie adventure begins with the question – what is Armenian cuisine? Not knowing what to expect of the culinary tradition of this former Soviet nation landlocked by Georgia, Turkey and Azerbaijan, we attended to the elegant copper exterior of Lusin – meaning ‘moon’ in Armenian – with a few facts stored front of mind.
We were also aware that Armenian cuisine is influenced by the vibrant cultures of Eastern Europe and the Levant. Combined with the fact Lusin’s menu is curated by 2 Michelin-star chef Marcel Ravin of the Blue Bay Hotel In Monaco, with Armenian dishes created by Madam Anahid Doniguian, author of several Armenian cookbooks, this was more than enough to tempt us through the doors and into the unknown.
The space inside is sumptuous yet low-key glossy, with a copper mirrored ceiling, modern minimalist lighting and on the tables, Peugeot pepper and salt mills, accessories noted as exemplary design additions by my guest. In contrast to its fine-dining credentials and besuited doormen, formality is definitely left at the door at Lusin. Inside it’s relaxed and buzzy and, because dishes are designed to be shared, this restaurant feels like an intimate and communal foil to some of Mayfair’s more show-up to show-off hotspots.
Lusin’s authentic Armenian London menu features innovative dishes such as the Famous Cherry Kebab (£50) made from spiced veal and lamb kebab skewers, perfectly charcoaled, and then covered with the signature house sauce using sour cherries sourced from Armenia and cooked down to a distinctive sweet, sour and salty flavour.
Our meal began with a palate cleanser of UNESCO Levan crisp bread paired with a creamy yoghurt, mint and walnut paste, and continued with the house speciality of a traditional Akawi Cheese Borak (£14), best swiftly devoured while piping hot. After sampling their vegan Lentil Kofta (£16) a fruity red lentil appetiser served with crunchy lettuce, we fell hard for their delicious Traditional Mutabal (£19), smoked aubergine with sesame and yoghurt scooped up with small puffy pitta (£5) fresh from the oven.
We opted for the Mixed Grill (£95) as our main, featuring Wagyu beef cubes, lobster, melt-in-the-mouth lamb chops and chicken sheesh, slightly miffed we were late to catch on to the fabulousness of the Famous Cherry Kebab. Lusin offers traditional sides with an Armenian twist, so if getting your five a day is crucial to your diet their grilled tender stem (£9) is a must.
To finish we went for the triple threat of their signature deserts, a gooey Honey Cake (£16), Pomegranate Éclair (£16) and Lemon Tarte (£16). If I were to pick one, it would be their curiously tart yet ultra-velvety Éclair – pure indulgence.
The highlight of our evening, though, belongs to a glass of Armenian wine, an Areni Noir, not yet on the menu – the restaurant thus far offers classical French wines – delivered to our table by the wonderful Zara Serobyan of Ginvino, an Armenian dynamo who is passionate about native wines from her homeland. If there was one suggestion we could make to enhance the upbeat yet intimate Lusin experience further, it would be to add Old Bridge, Grand Reserve, 2009, to the menu.