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Jaffa review

Jennifer Choi finds grubby grub at a popular Middle Eastern restaurant

Published on September 27th 2010.


Jaffa review

A mystery's been solved. There's an unfortunately named outlet in Rusholme called Rush-away, and I have never worked out why anyone would give an establishment a name like that, let alone one where they directly profit off customer visits. Not even MacDonalds would be so bold in its efforts to get punters in and out the doors.

Ours was baked with a thick American-esque crust which held in the cheese and bundles of citrusy spiced spinach. It was a beautiful thing, and the construct meant slow eaters could still enjoy their pie warm.

A Saturday evening visit to Jaffa held the key. This is a busy, largely Middle Eastern take-away/café towards the Fallowfield end of Rusholme. Queues trailed out towards the door and the seats over two floors were taken up by numerous Levantine families. A happy picture until you noticed the carpet speckled with food remains and an overflowing bin that greeted you as you reached the top of the stairs.

You see, if Jaffa had been named Rush-away so customers could take the hint and just order takeaway, all of this would have gone unnoticed. So there is an appropriate use for the name after all.

The crowd is a promising sign though, and we were hungry. So it we decided to check the food out and damn the hygiene standards.

  We started with some falafel and a small mixed mezze. The falafel had sat in the fryer for a few minutes too long and ended up with a tough coating edible only with the slightly watery mint and yogurt dip. The mezze was a sight, all different shapes and colours and textures. The goodly combination of juicy olives, tangy pickled peppers, hummus, creamy chickpeas and a fresh parsley and mint salad whetted our appetite for the meaty and doughy delights to follow.

We had the spinach and cheese fatayer, the lamb kebab and the chicken shawarma with a small mountain of flatbread. The fatayer is a great big pizza pie, halfway between a normal pizza and a calzone. Ours was baked with a thick American-esque crust which held in the cheese and bundles of citrusy spiced spinach. It was a beautiful thing, and the construct meant slow eaters could still enjoy their pie warm.

The lamb kebab looked dry but wasn't tough, and tasted fine. The chicken shawarma looked the part, all flakey strips of flesh helped by a hit of chili sauce. Admittedly, they weren't the best lamb kebabs or chicken shawarmas in the world, but this is where the mezze worked its magic. The assortment of vegetables thoroughly livened the meats up, and it was refreshing to see my carnivore companions treating those greens as more than decorative garnish.

We finished with the regulatory baklava selection, Arabic coffee and a cup of sugar with a drizzle of mint tea. All three were too sweet for us but probably just right for a Middle Eastern palate. We asked for water, and the staff proved accommodating despite being rushed off their feet. Plastic beakers arrived promptly with an apology for running out of glasses and jugs. Perfectly fine given the £25 price tag between the three of us.

As we were getting ready to leave one of my companions returned from the WC. "Since you're reviewing, you should go see the toilets." I bought my camera; photo evidence is below. I don't think the word filthy is overly harsh to describe the conditions in Jaffa, even by Rusholme standards.

So do yourselves a favour the next time you're hankering after Middle Eastern and find yourself in Rusholme: order take-out and rush-away.

Or try Beirut further up Wilmslow Road.

Rating:11.5/20
Breakdown:6/10 food
3.5/5 service
2/5 ambience
Address:Jaffa Cafe
185 Wilmslow Road
Rusholme
0161 225 0800

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: Gordo gets carried away

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The Egg ManApril 3rd 2010.

Guys, it's time to sort your photographs out, sometimes they are great sometimes really poor as above. It's a disservice to the restaurants concerned. Jaffa isn't that bad at all, but the snaps wouldn't make me want to go.

Scott NeilApril 5th 2010.

fatayer FTW, sounds good. can you get lahmacun anywhere round Mcr? i know we are hardly northeast London or Berlin but i suppose, say, Cheetham or the Wilmslow Road corridor might have places? i will say Jennifer Choi's writing entices me an awful lot; this is the second place i've never been that i intend to check out purely thanks to her.

JennApril 6th 2010.

@Egg Man I'll admit the first image could have been more in focus, but I can't see how the rest could've been described as poor given that they depict the dishes (and WC) exactly as they were on our visit. Care to elaborate?

@Scott Neil Thanks for the tip re: lahmacun - just looked them up and they sound tasty. Unfortunately not sure where you could track those down but I shall keep an eye out!

Scott NeilApril 6th 2010.

heh, cheers Jenn. and keep up the good work, loving your stuff. P.S. photos look fine to me!

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