[Alderley Edge, Cheshire] Yara

Syrian/Lebanese food. It’s a favourite cuisine. We like the light fresh flavours that you get. And Yara is a good place to enjoy them – either at their Alderley restaurant or the one in Altrincham. My Skoda doesnt look out of place parking near the Altrincham one but, tonight, it’s parked at the heart of the Golden Triangle, next the Mercs, BMWs and occasional Ferrari.

The menu is pretty predictable – the usual run of hot and cold mezze items, followed up with main courses, mainly of the kebab variety. It’s food that you come to know – and know whether these are decent varieties or something much better or, indeed, much worse. Yara is generally decent.

We had everything for sharing and ate:

Mouhamara – a dip of crushed walnuts, bulghar wheat and red peppers. There’s texture and a little background sweetness from the walnuts, and it’s very well seasoned

Moutabal – good smoky aubergine puree

Pitta – light and fluffy

Pickles – gherkins, chilli peppers and turnip. All straight from the jar as it would be anywhere.

Fattoush – quite finely chopped salad stuff – lettuce, tomato, cucumber and radish. Good lemony dressing, enhanced with a sprinkling of sumac

Lahembajeen – really the only miss of the evening. Lamb mince was OK but lacked the vibrancy that might have been expected from the advertised pomegranate sauce. The menu said it should be served on filo and you expect it to be crisp – but this seemed more like underbaked puff pastry.

Mixed kebab – one skewer each of chicken, lamb kofta and lamb shish. Well seasoned meat, properly cooked so still moist and juicy.

Shami rice – OK. A bit claggy but lightened with vermicelli.

Chilli sauces – one came with the starters – nicely fiery. A second came with the kebabs – softer, still with a backnote of chilli but, also, with a hint of sweetness. The first was preferred.

If I have one criticism, it’s about their reservation system. They have an online facility – although it’s actually one of those where, effectively, all you’re doing is sending an email to the restaurant. We’d sent it off and heard nothing. So we rang. No, it wasn’t in the reservations book. The emails go the manager who, seemingly, does nothing with them. Things like that are guaranteed to piss me off.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold