Dropping in to this little Lebanese restaurant in South Wimbledon, I found Al Aya to be a friendly local restaurant with good mint tea (integral to, and often a sign of, any good Middle Eastern eatery...) and reasonably priced dishes of homemade and traditional mezze.
The price didn't compromise the relaxed atmosphere or the quality of the food. The baked aubergine was particularly good- it wasn't too much of a pulp and all the individual flavours and textures came through. The falafel, which is the usual suspect for being particularly hit or miss also didn't disappoint. The large portions tasted hand-made and were deep fried with sesame seeds so that it was soft inside (without being flaky or dry) and crispy shelled.
The staff were gorgeous- when we enquired about mint tea we were recommended as to how we should take it; just mint, lemon and water. Without the tea and sugar it wasn't as sweet and synthetic as mint tea so often is. When we bought some baklava to take away, she rooted about to pick us out the largest pieces from the tray... Serious brownie points scored!
Al Aya, 195-197 Merton Rd, Wimbledon, London, SW19 1EE, 020 8417 0606