Review: Byblos Harbour
Unless mischievous goblins have been emerging in the night to steal our time, there are still 24 hours in the day.
So why is it so hard to find a moment for the things we enjoy?
We feed every minute of our lives to the insatiable chirping chicks of office meetings, traffic jams, must-see TV and exercise routines, with barely a second left to stuff a sandwich into our mouths like a tired camper cramming a fold-up tent back into its bag.
Where are the long, lingering lunches, the calm and joyful gatherings where diners can chat, fill their stomachs and watch the sun go down on a beautiful world?
Some of them are in Millharbour, at Aboud Grimestry's Byblos Harbour restaurant overlooking Millwall Inner Dock. The Halal Lebanese restaurant draws inspiration from the traditional Middle Eastern approach to dining, in which dishes are served in small portions and large quantities, and meals can take up a sizeable chunk of the afternoon.
If you make the time for it, it's one of the most satisfying places to eat on the Wharf.
Aboud said: "Lebanese food is one of the best cuisines in the Middle East. A lot of people that come down here know it very well. The meals can take a long time, but they're very good for socialising."
Lebanese meals begin with vast spreads of starters - or Mezza - which diners can sample gradually, rather than wade through one single large course. Options include the Kibbeh (£5.50), ground lamb and onion coated and deep-fried in an onion, wheat and lamb jacket, as well as the much-loved falafel (£4.75) and the classic Mediterranean Tabbouleh salad (£4.75) whipped up from mint, parsley, tomato, bulgar wheat and onion.
The Moutabal Baba Ghanouj (£5) made from flame-grilled puree of aubergine is a favourite among Hommos lovers, while the eastern Mediterranean Halloumi "mozzaralla" (£5.50) is available either grilled or pan-fried.
You can quite happily fill yourself up simply on these, but the main courses are also worth sampling. The Syadieh (£11.95) is a lightly-roasted sea bass hand-flaked into basmati rice and a rich seafood jus, while tender meat is served in dishes such as the Mushakal Meshwi (£13.95), a selection of chicken breast and lamb shoulder cubes, served with ground lamb kafta.
Byblos Harbour has some pleasant surprises on the drinks front too. The house red (£4.75 a glass) is a full-bodied wine from Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, and Arak - a milky aniseed flavoured traditional drink - can also be served with the meal.
If you're still able to move after all this, resist the temptation to do so. Instead, sample desserts such as the sweet Baklawa pastry (£4) filled with nuts and syrup, or retire outside for a soothing puff on a Shisha pipe (£10).
Byblos Harbour also offers delivery to E14 homes until 10pm. It has recently signed up to seamlessweb.com, a system allowing companies and locals to send takeaway orders to various restaurants online. And if you really can't spare the time to enjoy your day, this could be your next best option.
Aboud said: "In one month, some people have ordered 12 times from us."
0207 920 0920