Commanding a corner of Covent Garden’s Seven Dials is Beso; a collision of Mediterranean tapas and North African cooking. Forks and fingers dig in, whether you’re dining at pavement level with Covent Garden’s bustle or rubbing shoulders with Beso’s other patrons at the mosaicked Majorelle table inside. The interiors are all light wooden floors and exposed brick hung with modern art. A lively Firebar with chrome-cast stools is the venue’s most contemporary perch.
Passionate head chef, Khalid Dahbi’s menu of nibbles and sharing dishes draws its inspiration from his Moroccan heritage with a seasoning of ancient Moorish flavours. Khalid cut his teeth at Le Meurice and L’Arpège in Paris, Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s, Gaucho and Bibendum, alongside designing handbags and creating his own brand of caviar.
The result? A dangerously moreish spread. One more helping of the glossy salted mackerel paté – followed by another – atop crunchy sourdough. A mouthful of a richly flavoured vegetable tagine (the house speciality) inadvertently leads to a second. And not polishing off every morsel of the succulent poussin chicken, doused in whipped yoghurt, pomegranate seeds and sumac, would be criminal.
The desserts are just as irresistible. The creamy white chocolate panna cotta infused with rose and mint and the Valrhona Choc Delice are almost too pretty to eat.
For real privacy, retreat to the enclosed booths below ground, next to Beso’s tucked-away wine cellar. Conjuring images of an exclusive bank vault, it houses a well-selected collection of vintages. There are full-bodied reds, in the form of a 2016 Primitivo Tenute Rubino and a 2016 Monastrell Syrah Familia Pacheco; sparkling wines, such as a 2016 Prosecco Spumante Millesimato Biscardo; and crisp whites and rosés. Cocktail-sippers won’t go disappointed, with a nutty Marrakech Martini, refreshing Spritz Especial or a Beso Sensation – fruity vodka and orange – ripe for raising a toast.