Lebanese Kitchen

Best Part: The Minty Drinks!

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Our venue this week is a stones throw from the city station. It is nestled happily in the small parade boasting The Breakfast club and Abbey Spice and opposite Chilli Raj. It also has two good neighbours in the Crown and Verdi’s. It does seem like this particular corner of St Albans is particularly well served for culinary treats. In this hallowed company the Lebanese Kitchen still manages to stand up.

The Lebanese kitchen is very narrow and therefore there is the great danger of it being overlooked. I say “danger” because dear reader it is highly worthy of your custom. It is made in the cafe style so there are no table cloths and the waiting staff did not refer to us as ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’ or recommend the Chablis. It is clean, bustling and friendly serving a well priced and authentic Lebanese menu. This is our third time of eating here and will not be our last.

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We took a seat by the window, as we like to do, though were warned we may have to move if a large crowd appeared. There were few spots to move to, but luckily there were no large crowds so we maintained our prized spot throughout the meal.
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We were very excited to try their signature lemon mint juice. However this seemed a very intricate operation and the drinks arrived sometime after the food. This would have been less of an issue if the ordered tap water had arrived sooner but it did not, so we were left with food but no drink, which is never ideal. As an aside, this was the third time in a row that we had to ask for tap water multiple times. Are we being punished for our thriftiness? Is there a concerted effort by the citizens of Harrogate and Malvern to shame people into ordering a better class of water? If so, they will fail. I will pay for many things in this life that might be expected too be free, but I draw the line here.

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But I digress. The mint juice when it arrived was sweet, zingy and extremely refreshing. A sucker for fried cheese my mind was made up quickly on a halloumi sandwich. This was served in warm fresh flat bread. Our hummus was great. As dedicated readers will know Mr Midweek lunch has had a rocky ride with hummus over the years but he won’t relive childhood traumas here (again), merely comment that it was good hummus, maybe a trifle over-creamy but with more of the lovely warm bread.

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He then ordered a Koftah Kebab, following his belief that you can’t go wrong ordering lamb in a Lebanese restaurant. It hasn’t failed him yet, and worked out once again here. The meat was juicy but ever so slightly charred, the bread continued to be lovely and the crispy salad worked well with it. We also asked for Fattoush which was great last time but this was forgotten. This was a shame but by the time we remembered we had eaten quite enough food so this was not a problem, and it did mean that we still got to say the word Fattoush quite a few times.

The service was friendly and the food fresh, well priced and interesting. What more can you ask for. Don’t blink or you might miss it!

A hidden gem.

7.8/10

http://lebanesekitchen.co.uk/

 

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Jon’s StrEAT Food

Best part: the beetroot!

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We were under very tight time pressure this week, so went for an option that we knew would be speedy and have no potential pitfalls around waiting for bills or nonchalant waiters. You’ve probably seen the stall at the top end of St Peter’s where Jon peddles his of the moment pulled substances and his punning name so bad it wouldn’t seem out of place on a barber’s shop.

The service was friendly and efficient.  Whilst smelling the gorgeous food being cooked and feeling almost jealous of my meat eating husband I was happy to see great attention to hygiene in this open kitchen van. Very reassuring in this fast food context.

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Once we had obtained our meals we set out to find a venue to consume them. As it was midsummer, it was of course raining so the usual options of the Vintry Garden or the nice patch behind the town hall were out. Instead as good loyal St Albanians we sat in the car and listened to Radio Verulam.

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I had been presented with a roll containing ‘Firecracker Brisket’, an intensely rich and sticky mess of beef in a lovely, slightly sweet, brioche roll. Giving a slightly firmer texture was the coleslaw which tasted fresh and zesty.  This was despite the presence of shredded beetroot. Normally beetroot is unwelcome in any context if you are not a drunken antipodean, but it was pickled here and I finally started to see the point of it.
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The falafel was good but it was the accompanying salady stuff that made the lunch special; sweet and crunchy.  As street food it worked fine in the bun but I do feel that the alternative accompaniment of cous cous would have actually tasted better with it. Of course this wouldn’t have worked anywhere without a table. Although our youngest child often proves that you can eat cous cous with your fingers it is not something that anyone else should be forced to watch in public or private! Therefore I would advise any readers to opt for the bun unless they are eating at their desks.

Now, the one issue that presented itself when we had finished wolfing down our buns to the accompaniment of local reporting at it’s best, was the stickiness that had made the beef so flavoursome. As this was street food, to be eaten on or around a street, we had neither cutlery nor a convenient bathroom to wipe our mucky paws. Therefore, potentially the inclusion of moist lemon towelettes might be a winner in future?

Otherwise, well done to Jon and his al fresco loose meat sandwich emporium!

7.3/10

http://www.blue-sage.co.uk/#!streat-food/f8i3o