[Alderley Edge, Cheshire] Yara
Truth be told, I’m not a great fan of Alderley Edge. It’s all a bit, erm, footballers wives. Literally – a goodly number of footie players live in the area around the village. But let’s not make a mistake here – Yara is an absolute belter of a place. And I shall be happy go back and park my Skoda next to the Ferraris and Porsches that line the main drag.
There’s a menu packed with the usual Lebanese/Syrian stalwarts, with the occasional dart to other dishes of the broader “Middle East”. There’s friendly and attentive service. The food is damned good. And it comes in very generous portions. What’s not to like?
We ordered a few starters as a sort of DIY mezze. I know what’s what with moutabal and can make a pretty decent version. Yara’s version is good. Very good. The waiter told me they grill the aubergines over charcoal and you do get the smokiness that’s all but impossible to replicate in the oven at home. It was silky smooth with tahini in there but not overpowering the vegetable. There was a lovely fattoush – all the salad ingredients chopped quite finely, with the occasional almost burnt tasting crunch from toasted pitta. Great lemony dressing, enhanced with sumac. Loubieh came warm and was a delicious, if simple, mix of green beans and a garlicky tomato sauce. There was a freebie dish of olives, a freebie dish of chilli paste and a chargeable dish of pickles – red cabbage, chilli peppers and turnip.
My main course - Tabakh Rawhou – may not have been the most authentic offering. Google turns up only one other reference and that’s an item on the menu of Aladdin in Withington, towards Manchester. Authentic or not, this was a long cooked stew of lamb, aubergine, courgette and onion, Perhaps a little too long cooked as everything was very soft and I do enjoy a bit of texture, while I’ve still got my own teeth. Bags of flavour though. It came with the rice/vermicelli combo that can look so nice on the plate as well as taste good. The other main saw the same basic ingredients served up with cous cous and the flavouring here was much more the warm, sweetish spices of coriander and cinnamon. I reckon there was also a hint of sugar in there as well. It was the better dish of the two.
I don’t drink alcohol but my partner does – and, whilst she’s used to seeing Lebanese wine available, she reckons this was the first time she’s seen Lebanese beer. And it was a decent lager.
They have another branch in Altrincham, near to the Metrolink terminus, for anyone fancying a quick schlep from Manchester's city centre.