Lona Grill House & Juice Bar 4/5
VALUE FOR MONEY: 3.5/5
ATMOSPHERE AND DECOR: 3.5/5
Note: All meat halal, No alcohol served on the premises, family and prayer space available
My previously very pregnant Bristolian bestie KOcakes was now with child, so ShakerFries and I went to spend some time with our new beautiful niece ZEE in the city which will always remain close to my heart.. Bristol. As soon as we drove into B-town I was already feeling nostalgic..after all I was back in the city where I spent my undergrad, and where my journey to Islam began! Even though Bristol doesn’t always offer much in terms of diverse halal cuisines, Lona Grill House and Juice Bar has been a place I have wanted to try for the last 2 years. Lona is a Lebanese restaurant in Bristol that claims to serve the best traditional Lebanese cuisine in a family friendly environment, serving a variety of authentic dishes as well as a fine variety of healthy fresh juice cocktails.
Finally…the opportunity presented itself, and the 4 and 1/4 of us headed down to Gloucester Road to see what it had to offer. I was immediately grabbed by the extravagant exterior, and the inside didn’t disappoint either. The restaurant was huge, packed full of people, with a buzzing atmosphere. The lighting was dim, with captivating Middle Eastern decor, a juice bar which took centre stage in the restaurant and an open grill where the meat and fish were cooked fresh before your eyes. If I ever wanted to find out where all the muslims were in Bristol, guaranteed they were at Lona. When I walked in I realised that I had just discovered the main muslamic hideout in Bristol. I was quite surprised as being students in Bristol, KOcakes and I could never really find a muslim friendly restaurant like this.
This eatery even had a prayer room and a children’s play area. I mean you can’t get more muslim/family friendly than that. Despite being a hotspot for the Bristolian muslim community, it was apparent that Lona was a favourite for the non-muslim locals too. Clearly Lona was popular with everyone, and I was about to find out why!
KOcakes and Oraby were regulars at Lona, so we let them take the reigns on ordering. For starters we ordered fattoush, hommus, bourek (cheese pastries), halloumi and soujouk (spicy sausages). For mains we went for the ‘Lona Special Round 2’ which contained 2 lamb kofte, 1 lahem meshwi, 1 shish taouk, 2 chicken musher, 2 ribs, 2 lamb cutlets, chicken wings, and mixed sharwarma all served with rice, fried, bulgar wheat, naan bread and salad… PHEW! I really wanted to order a fresh juice but KOcakes told me they were quite heavy and I was already doubting my capabilities when it came to finishing the food we had already ordered so I opted for the lighter option: a fresh lemon and mint juice.
The food arrived pretty much pronto. As usual, I was bursting at the seams following the starters and a couple of chunks of lamb from the mains, much to the dismay of Oraby who in true Egyptian fashion tutted and proceeded to pile various bits of meat onto my plate. I must say I was mind blown by the quality of the meat in the mains. Usually when you receive a platter as large as this (and trust me this plate was at least half the size of me!), the quality of meat is cheap and poor. Not only was this meat excellent quality but the seasoning was of this world, especially the within the kofte which is my least favourite meat option when eating Lebanese food. I’m going to backtrack at this point and say I enjoyed the starters just as much! The hommus was smooth, fresh, and tasty. The fattoush salad was crisp and drizzled in a sweetish dressing. My favourite was the soujouk which I had never really tried before, but had a tangy kick and tasted similar to merguez which I love! Everything was washed down nicely with my refreshingly tangy lemon and mint juice.
The service was definitely above average, and I would give extra brownie points for their attentiveness considering how busy they were. We were seated almost immediately and the food arrived piping hot, within a few minutes of us placing the order. Value for money was again great as the bill came to around 70£ for 4 of us. This was a small price to pay considering the mountain of food we ordered! If you’re in bristol and struggling to find a quality halal restaurant to eat at, the search is over my friend. Look no further, Lona is the one!