Unlike some previous occupants of the restaurant space, which only lasted a short time, Yara is now well established and, even midweek, was busy. I can’t recall if it was Yara or a previous occupant that enclosed the original terrace, at the back of the restaurant, to increase the number of tables. But it was great idea, as it has a roof that they can wind in. So, on this July evening, we were dining in the open air. That is, until it started to drizzle, when the roof was wound out again. We can’t have Eastern Mediterranean weather but we can have Eastern Mediterranean food.
As always in Middle Eastern restaurants, we ordered several starters and a single main course, usually with everything coming together for the two of us to share.
So, there were a couple of dips. Muhammara, with its slight sweetness from red pepper and crushed walnuts, contrasting well with the earthiness of the houmous. Freshness from a well made tabbouleh – the lemony dressing on the finely sliced parsley was just right, and the addition of chopped tomato and onion just gave it another zing. The consistency of makmour makes it almost another dip, albeit one still with texture from long cooked aubergine, tomato and onion. In the past, my partner has successfully treated it as a veggie main course, with rice. It’s always been served warm here, although it appears in the list of old starters. And, lastly on the starters, there were pickles. I have to have pickles with a Middle Eastern meal. It’s a texture, as well as flavour, thing – sharp and crunchy. There’s mild green chillis, pickled red cabbage and pickled turnip, stained red with beetroot.
The main course was lamb shawarma. Like everything else, it was a very generous portion and comes with two sauces – tahini and chilli. They’re welcome as, pretty much as always with shawarma, the slivers of lamb are a tad dry. But so tasty. Our carb was pitta – perfect for scooping up the dips or wrapping round the meat.
Service was fine once it got going but we did have to wait a while to place orders. Not quite at the finger tapping stage but longer than you want when you’re hungry.