[Cheadle, Greater Manchester] Yara

Middle Eastern is a favourite “foreign” food for us and we’ve been to Yara’s other restaurants in Altrincham and Alderley Edge on several occasions. We’ve been waiting for their third place to open in Cheadle for ages, as it’s more convenient from home. It’s in a space where, in recent years, restaurants don’t seem to have lasted for very long but the number of customers on a cold midweek night are probably already rewarding Yara’s confidence in coming to the area.

It’s a big space – it’d be a bit desolate if there weren’t many customers but, almost full, there was a nice buzz… As you come in, there’s a bar area and a few tables. The restaurant then opens out into the main room with a small annex at the back, with a glass partition from the main room. The annex was where we were seated. It was fine – walk-ins can’t expect the best tables – a bit chilly when the back door, which leads to Cheadle’s main car park, was opened while folk went off to smoker’s ghetto. Other than that, they’ve refurbished the place well – it’s bright and modern and, at our age, we were glad they’ve not forgotten to include comfy seating.

As for the food, we shared four mezze starters and two main courses. The waiter asked if we wanted everything to come together (in Middle Eastern fashion) or in a more British two courses. Well, the table wasn’t that big, so we opted for two courses. There was an excellent baba ghanoush – silky, smoky aubergine puree, the addition of pomegranate molasses giving it a citrusy kick and a slight sweetness, along with the flavour of tahini, etc. Pickles were as you’d expect – chilli peppers, turnips and cabbage – the two vegetables being a very deep red , much more coloured than you usually get in the stuff in jars, so maybe they make them themselves. Kibbeh were OK – tasty lamb mince, encased in bulgher wheat, shaped into a sausage and fried. And, finally, makmour – aubergine, long cooked with tomato and onion. There’s pitta bread for dipping, etc (and we were asked if we need more, once we’d scoffed the first three)

There were more aubergines in tabakh rawhou – this time cooked along with courgette and onion in a tomato sauce to which a few chunks of lamb were added. It tasted good, if a tad sweet from the addition of possibly honey but, to nitpick, the vegetables had been so long cooked that they had little texture left. Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be. An entirely vegetarian dish, on the menu only as “Artichoke”, was a good effort. Two artichoke bottoms had been filled with finely chopped vegetable, then topped with an upended tomato half which, in turn was topped with mixed beans, all surrounded by what may have been the same tomato sauce as the other dish. Its problem, for our taste buds, was that a heavy use of lemon masked the more delicate flavours. We’d taken the view that we should try things that we hadn’t eaten at the other Yaras and, whilst these main courses were fine, I don’t think they improved on the kebabs and other grills we’ve usually ordered.

It’s worth noting that, in the spirit of hospitality for which the Middle East is famous, everything is a generous portion and, if you want to leave clean plates, then take a ferocious appetite with you.

It may be that they are still settling in to the new business and haven’t yet got their staffing levels, etc quite right. Everything, except getting the bill, was slower than you’d expect – not bad enough to get to the finger tapping stage but enough that you were really pleased when some food eventually arrived. It wasn’t just us – we overheard a neighbouring table ordering drinks which never came. Hopefully, they’ll have got it all sorted by the time we next visit.

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

― Jonathan Gold

Market stall in Lima
Credit: TXMX 2