Eating the Alphabet: L is for Lebanese in Bristol
L is for… Lebanon
THIS time, we had to stray out of the county for the first time, which is not bad really given that we are nearly half way through!
For L we picked Lebanon and while we couldn't find any Lebanese restaurants with a GL postcode, down the road in Bristol there is quite a choice. In the end we opted to try out a place called Sahra in Queen's Road. We picked it on account of a number of recent reviews that have been oozing with praise.
The restaurant itself is down some steps and in a basement, meaning that you must first pass through an attractive outdoor eating area, complete with patio heaters and stylish Middle Eastern furniture.
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As soon as we walked inside I was instantly in love with the place. The owners have taken full advantage of the arches and slightly domed walls of the basement area and have carefully customised them with paint and wall furnishings that achieve a very authentic Arabic feel. Similarly, the tables, soft furnishing and muted lighting also continue the theme well.
The look of the place, combined with some ultra-cool, Middle East inspired music, give the Sahra a laid back chic-ness that you can instantly recline into.
Food wise we opted for the mezze for two. This consists of five starters and then a three meat mixed grill. We felt that this would provide us the opportunity to try a number of dishes.
In terms of the starters, these included some delightfully tangy houmous, big fluffy pittas and some of the largest falafels I have ever seen – honestly, they were about the size of tennis balls. Compared with other falafels they were very smooth in texture – they also came with sour pouring yoghurt which kept them from being too dry.
The meat starters included Jawanih Bil Toom (chargilled chicken wings in garlic and coriander sauce) and Sujiq (a mildly spiced Armenian sausage) which were both fantastic!
The whole opening banquet was perfectly executed and rather than two of your fighting over the last potato skin because they gave you odd numbers, they made especially sure that you both had ample amounts of each dish.
After this we were starting to feel a little full but our taste buds were longing for more. Next up was the mixed grill which came on a large platter. This contained cubes of marinated lamb, mince lamb, and chicken cubes, all served with rice.
You could easily tell this wasn't just knocked up in an oven – when it said it was a charcoal grill, it meant it.
The chicken had a delicious smoky flavour that bought the spices to life. The lamb cubes we tender and came apart easily. The minced lamb were in an almost sausage shape similar to the kofte mentioned in last week's entry, but the quality of the ingredients really showed here.
I have to say one of the great things about doing this being able to try lots of different country's cuisines, and this one was pure pleasure. Sahra is, without a doubt, a definite place to visit.