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Yara Restaurant Review

Jenny Morris enjoys Lebanese in Altrincham

Published on January 3rd 2012.


Yara Restaurant Review

YARA is a family-run restaurant based in Altrincham, with a sister venue in Alderley Edge. It’s a Lebanese and Syrian outfit with a menu familiar enough not to frighten punters off, but with a list of less well-known dishes to keep interest levels up.

Overall the food was well executed and varied and provided a welcome change to the usual Indian, Italian, gastro pub options diners are usually faced with.

The place is tucked away on a largely residential side street in Altrincham, in a renovated terraced house. Consequently, the restaurant itself is small that when it's busy it's a squeeze.

On our visit we waited for a while to sit – though this had less to do with Yara’s organisational skills, and more to do with the vat of wine sunk by the group of ladies on our alloted table.

The restaurant has further space upstairs – which was just as packed. Popular place, this Yara. There was no bar area to prop for the aforementioned aperitif so we busied ourselves with menu-scanning and people watching.

When we got to the table we began with a snackette of hummus and pitta bread (£4.25). I’m not one to usually rave about legume-based dips but this hummus was really good – smooth and tahini-packed. I could have eaten a plateful of it. And I did. I even let my husband have a little.

Meanwhile, our proper starters arrived – fatayer (£4), a pastry filled with spinach, onions, pomegranate sauce and herbs then deep fried to resemble large spring rolls, and sujok (£4.90) – spicy lamb sausages grilled on charcoal.

The sujok were delicious, similar to Merguez sausages but with a more subtle warmth that was tempered by the lamb. Surprisingly lean, it was a simple dish that satisfied on its own though it would be good alongside one of the many dips Yara offers too.

Fatayer And SaladFatayer And SaladThe fatayer were, sadly, a bit of a letdown – too much spinach, not enough onion and the pomegranate sauce was too tangy and overpowering. They were okay; it just seemed something was missing.

In the meantime I’d spotted what I thought was some Lebanese plonk – Arak Kefraya – and ordered a glass of it. Our lovely waiter thankfully spotted the misunderstanding and explained it’s actually a strong liquor that would blow my socks off. So I ordered the Pinot Grigio, a thin and character-free Italian number, and settled into the main course. The best bet for wine is perhaps bringing your own for a £1 corkage fee.

I’d ordered the sultani (£9.50) – pieces of chicken marinated in red sauce (no, not ketchup) and grilled over charcoal. This was served simply with a salad, so a side dish of mujadara (£4.50) was ordered – it’s a rice and lentil dish that’s cooked with spices and topped with chewy, sweet fried onions.

SultaniSultani

I could have had the latter dish by itself, it was filling and sweet and spicy and the perfect accompaniment to the sultani. This was also excellent. The chicken was moist, with that slightly charred charcoal taste and the marinade was unlike any I’d tried, fragrant but slightly sweet and with a kick of something like cumin or cardamom.

My husband was tucking into the generously portioned mixed kebab grill (£13) featuring a combination of chicken kebab, lamb shish kebab and kaftah kebab with salad. Again, it showed a fine use of spices and marinades that shone. We also shared the cucumber and yoghurt salad (£3.75) that complemented the spiced dishes well.

Mixed GrillMixed Grill

Half way through we uncharacteristically admitted defeat. The food was great, but I’d forgotten to wear my elasticated trousers and was close to spontaneous combustion. Thankfully the lovely chaps at Yara will happily divvy out doggy bags to its overfed customers, so we didn’t waste a scrap.

Despite this, I’d been hankering for the baklava since I first read the menu online and ordered a portion of the similar ballorieh kanefah (£4.25) to take home. Instead of filo sheets the dessert was shredded pastry (a bit like sweet, crushed vermicelli) stuffed with pistachio nuts baked with butter, honey and sugar.

I enjoyed this dessert with a cuppa the following day – it was full of chunky pistachios, and was sweet and sticky in a good way. This type of dessert isn’t for everyone, but if you have a sweet tooth give it a go.

Ballorieh KanefehBallorieh Kanefeh

We’d go to Yara again – it's deservedly popularity. We visited on a Wednesday night, and an eclectic bunch were having a grand time – young families, older friends and slightly inebriated festive diners were all enjoying the restaurant.

Overall the food was well executed and varied and provided a welcome change to the usual Indian, Italian, gastro pub options diners are usually faced with. The team at Yara were top-notch as well, helpful, friendly and efficient despite being faced with a packed restaurant.

Arak_Kefraya[1]Arak KefrayaOur night ended with a surprise offering of the Arak Kefraya – I got the feeling it wasn’t often ordered – and despite several glasses of wine I felt obliged to sample the Lebanese spirit. Wowzers – think Ouzo with attitude. It was watered down to create a large glassful of milky-looking liquid that defeated me after just a few sips and had me swaying ever-so-slightly into the night.

ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL. 

Yara, 23 Oxford Road, Altrincham, Greater Manchester, 0161 926 8001. http://www.yara2eat.co.uk/ WA14 2ED      

Rating: 14/20
Food: 7/10
Service: 3/5 
Ambience: 4/5

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: we've got carried away.

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8 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousJanuary 3rd 2012.

What you forgot to mention is that you can take your own wine as well at £1 a bottle if you want!

1 Response: Reply To This...
Jonathan SchofieldJanuary 3rd 2012.

We'll amend

Jacqueline Hughes-LundyJanuary 3rd 2012.

This is my favourite local restaurant. Food is always good and the waiters are friendly and helpful. I also occasionally use it as a take away. The BYO makes it a very popular venue as the reviewer discovered.

AnonymousJanuary 3rd 2012.

Been to Yara Altrincham about 6 times since I moved to the area 2 years ago. I've been impressed by the food and service on each visit and I can't recommend the place enough. The bring your own option is an added bonus too.

Phillip CooksonJanuary 3rd 2012.

Been to Yara a few times, the food is very good, portions very generous, you definitely need the loose fitting trousers on!!

David JJanuary 5th 2012.

Love the place

AnonymousJanuary 8th 2012.

she made the wrong choices of food but still enjoyed it.
this is altrincham's best kept secret so keep it quiet,please!

polecatJanuary 10th 2012.

Have been to Yara many times, including few times with a friend who knows a lot about this style of food, and have never been dissapointed. Food always has been great and service imaculate. To be able to bring your own drinks is a well welcome advantage. They have just opened a branch in A. Edge where we were the first to use it for a private party upstairs and also must complement on its quality. Well done to Yara!

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