Lilya | A moody new Moroccan lounge and bar
There’s a new Moroccan lounge and bar in Central and it’s a treat for all the senses. Once the elevator doors opened to Lilya's second floor location, our eyes met a beautiful wall of colourful Babouche slippers. There was so much to take in, we almost forgot to look up and notice the ceiling lined with fanoos, traditional glass lamps. Then the sweet smell of perfumed spices emanating from the bar hit us, and we made our way to one of the long velvet banquettes for the night. Once settled, we took in the beautiful tiled bar, accent walls of silk tassels and Hands of Fatima, and Moroccan music by their in-house deejay.
Lilya is located in quite a large space. The main room is filled with the aforementioned velvet banquettes and poufs, and is bathed in a rosy glow. While the overall vibe is dark and atmospheric in the evenings, we were impressed that the individual seats were well lit. This meant we could actually see each other, read the menu, and so on, while enjoying the transportive atmosphere. In addition to the main room, there’s also a white tiled terrace area that could comfortably fit two groups. With its white stoned walls and mosaic tiled floors, this would be a prime spot to reside before the sun goes down. Luckily, the windows can be shut and the air conditioned turned on in this area so it's still great in the summer.
We tried a number of cocktails; most are on the sweeter side and all are beautifully presented. The Medina ($120) was very drinkable, and recommended for those that enjoy the delicate taste of rose syrup.
Another favourite was the Marjorelle ($125), a sweet and citrusy cocktail elevated by a mix of wonderful spices including cardamom. This one tasted almost creamy, though the drink was clear underneath the foam.
Our jaws dropped when the fun and whimsical Oriental Fashion ($140) came out. Our server lifted the glass container, and the fragrant smoking lavender gave way for quite a traditionally presented Old Fashioned. This cocktail itself was well-mixed, and a treat for all the senses with the addition of a burning cinnamon stick.
For those that prefer cocktails that are less sweet, give Lilya Dream ($130) a try. This one was refreshing with aged Ron Zacapa rum as the base, and lemongrass, turmeric, dates, ginger and turmeric. It had a refreshing, herbal-y taste.
Because good drinks require good snacks, we ordered a number of items from their menu. We loved the cheese briouates ($108), puff pastries, which contained a mixture of cow, sheep and goats cheeses, as well as deliciously salty pieces of olives. The chicken, almond and honey briouates ($108) were also delicious, with the honey adding just a touch of sweetness to the savoury treat. Both came accompanied with a small dish of pesto-like sauce.
Being big fans of eggplant, we wanted to try the Zaalouk ($68) and it did not disappoint. Mixed with tomato and harissa, this one was spicy! It was very delicious but quite salty, and we wished it had been served with some grilled bread.
The Fisherman’s Pastilla ($178) is the seafood version of a the famous Moroccan meat pie. Lilya’s luxe version contained lobster and pink royal pageot, and was topped with scallops and walnuts. The filling also contained rice noodles which were lightly spiced. While this didn't blow us away flavour-wise, it was fresh and quite filling.
Our favourite order of the night was the Saddle of Lamb ($168). A dish of blanched almonds and caramelized onions that had been cooked with saffron, confit lemon and a five spice blend was brought out. This alone was so fragrant, and the soft and crunchy textures played well together. The lamb was slow cooked and tender, and the slightly gamey taste went well with the sweet and spiced onions and almonds.
This new Moroccan lounge and bar on Wyndham is beautifully designed, serves up unique (though often sweet) cocktails and bites, and is a wonderfully comfortable place to relax and enjoy an evening out. While the prices aren’t cheap, neither are they exorbitant for Central. We think Lilya is priced fairly for the quality of its cocktails and food, and a great deal for Happy Hour where selected cocktails are buy one get one from 6 to 8 pm from Sunday to Wednesday. They've also just joined Super Mondays where mains are one for one on Monday's if you have the card. Shisha is also available.
77 Wyndham St, Central, 2526 2578