Big fan of Syriana too!
1 Constitution Hill, Birmingham, West Midlands B19 3LG
- Contact us:
- Opening hours:
Mon - Fri 12:00 PM till Midnight
Lunch Menu, International Coffees
Sat 4:00 PM till 2:00 AM
Sun 4:00 PM till 11:00 PM
Belly Dancers Fri and Sat nights.
Authentic Middle Eastern foods, fresh baked breads. Catering available and take away
London E11 1NE
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5 reviews of Syriana in English
Our first impressions were that the decor was pretty dated-looking, but it was fine; flashiness of decoration doesn't correlate with food quality in my experience. We were sat, the three of us, at a table for four, which was unfortunately positioned just out of range of the series of mounted lights across the walls. This gave our table a bit of a dim and dingy feel to it. Again, that's not overly important, but had our table been moved into the free space a couple of metres down the wall, we'd have been perfectly well lit.
At this was a Friday night they had their fixed menu on (for £17.95): mezze to start, a selection of main courses and baklava for dessert:
Mezze: This wasn't too bad. Though my parents felt it was decidedly average. We received houmous (as one would expect), aubergine dip (bit wet and not particularly pleasant), a mixed salad (very nice), some red pepper dip (gorgeous), some fried potatoes (nice), some pickles (fine), some warm moussaka (unimpressive) and a basket of flat breads.
My mother wasn't too impressed with the mezze. She said, and I'm trusting her experience here, that seafood is a big part of Lebanese mezze, so there should really have been sardines or some other fish. She felt they had opted for the cheapest ingredients they could. She also said that Lebanese cooking should have a noticeable olive oil, lemon and garlic motif running thorughout it. Apart from the puddle of olive oil on the houmous, this was definitely absent.
Main Courses: My father and I opted for the Mixed Grill. I wasn't too inspired by this. It felt like another collection of starters, as you might expect to get at an Indian restaurant if you ordered a platter of meat starters. There was a shish kebab (dry, but aren't they all like that?), some chunks of lamb (chewy like beef), some chunks of chicken (chewy like beef) and a couple of chicken wings (I didn't tackle). These were served with some perfectly nice rice and a few more fried potatoes.
My father seemed perfectly happy with his meat selection, so perhaps this cuisine just wasn't for me. But I couldn't help but wonder if the middle east tend to live on portions of dry meat, cous cous, rice and falafel. Surely that's not the case?
My mother was feeling adversed to meat that evening so opted for the vegetables and cous cous. She consulted with waiter first and he said that, if she liked lamb she should really go for the lamb and vegetable cous cous, but if she really didn't want lamb then she could just have the vegetables. I felt at the time as though we were being slightly warned away from having only vegetables, but that's what she wanted, so that's what she ordered.
As soon as her dish arrived I could tell from her flared nostrils that she wasn't going to get on well with it. Looking at it I could see why. Imagine getting several large pieces of root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, turnips, celery, and something that was either sweet potato, pumpkin or squash), throwing them into a pan together and boiling them for 40 minutes. Then you serve them up on a plate with some cous cous, and a plain-tasting gravy on the side. Oh and sprinkle some parsley over the top for presentation. Well that's what she got.
I tried a little bit of carrot and it was mush, almost liquid. All of the vegetables were discoloured. Even the potatoes had developed a grey pallor, which stood in contrast to the enjoyable fried ones my father and myself had.
My mother insisted on sitting and not eating it while my father and I ate ours. I actually gave up on mine half-way through and wrapped the remainder of the meat up in tissue to take home to my dog, Molly. After the meal, however, she called the waiter over and complained that the dish was disgusting and said she wouldn't be paying for it.
Now this is where I need to change direction a little and give the restaurant a considerable amount of credit. Their service was absolutely exemplary throughout the evening. From booking to sitting us, prompt taking of our orders, advice, prompt delivery of food, right through to accepting my mother's complaints graciously. The waiter clearly didn't have the authority to take the dish off the bill, and tried to persuade her to have an alternative dish instead. But when she insisted, the manager came along, apologised profusely and took £7.95 off the bill. Terrific.
Oh I almost forgot to mention the drinks. All three of us had a "Syriana Cocktail". This was basically a pretty run-of-the-mill fruit smoothie. Nothing exotic about that at all. I then followed this up with a vanilla milkshake. Unfortunately this seemed to have been made using that colourless white vanilla icecream you can buy that doesn't really taste of anything, so the milkshake tasted of nothing.
The baklava was fine - very supermarkety, and a very small portion. In fact, by the time my mother and father came to eat their second piece, I'd accidentally eaten it all. I guess that's not really the restaurant's fault though.
We also had their arabic coffee, served in a metal jug. That was beautiful - absolutely wonderful flavour. I'd have that again given the opportunity.
Oh, one point I missed about my mother's meal: the cous cous was quite nice. She wasn't impressed and found it flavourless (which it really was), but compared to the pre-flavoured packets you get in supermarkets, it was fantastic. Soft and yummy.
So yeah, won't be going there again. We'll be back to Blue Nile though if we ever find ourselves on Great Hampton Street again.
Food was great. I went for the “tapas” style menu - hoummus, aubergine dip, salad, halloumi - my partner had a few of those and a HUGE main course (all brought out together). Only disappointing thing was the veg seemed to be a pack of frozen mixed veg (sweetcorn, carrot, peas - you know the sort of stuff) with some tomato sauce! Everything else was great. Didn’t know it wasn’t licensed so the owner offered us a glass of wine on the house. Belly dancer was very good too, if a little distracting (for my partner!)
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