[Alderley Edge, Cheshire] Yara

We usually go to the Cheadle branch of Yara but rang them to make a reservation to be told they are now only doing two fixed sittings – at 6.30 and 8.30. Not acceptable to us – you want to eat when you want to eat - so we rang the Alderley branch who, more hospitably, were happy to take a reservation for our preferred time. That said, when we turned up, there was no record of the reservation – but, with something of a “no problem” shrug, we were led to a table.

These days, we order everything to share, majoring on the mezze starters. There’s always the option to have everything come together or, in a more British style, eat the starters, then have the mains. Sometimes we do it one way, sometimes the other. This time we decided on starters followed by mains, not least as the table top would have been a bit cramped.

So, there was a nice smoky moutabal, perfect for scooping up with pitta. A very fresh tasting fattoush – tomato, onion, cucumber, etc, with crisp bits of bread and a nice lemony dressing (that could have been even more lemony for our tastes), a generous portion of pickles - green peppers (that can be chilli peppers in some places, but not here), pickled turnips and strips of cucumber (or was it courgette?) and, from the hot selection, ful madamas – quite meaty beans in a flavoured broth. And they serve all this with a little dish of very powerful chilli sauce. And lots of pitta.

We then got stuck in to a mixed kebab – one skewer each of chicken, lamb shish and lamb kofta. All well flavoured, the lamb shish being a tad overcooked for perfection. It comes with a jug of mild, and slightly sweet, chilli sauce – I mixed mine share with some of the fiery stuff we still had left, to give it more of a kick. We had that with shami rice – nice fluffy grains, mixed with vermicelli.

This was a nice dinner and you can only hope they are not intending follow the sittings nonsense at Cheadle. Otherwise, it will be time to find a completely new Lebanese/Syrian place.