I've been to Al Rouche many times over the years. I am half-Lebanese and this restaurant is the closest thing to 'native' Lebanese food that I've ever tasted. They even serve Almaza Lebanese beer (which I highly recommend!). I went to Al Rouche today to celebrate my dad's birthday. He's the full-fledged Lebanese and so the fact that he chose to eat there speaks volumes!
I went for the set menu. There's a wide range of choices on the normal menu, but at £10,95, the set menu is such ridiculously good value that it's difficult to pass it over! You get a plate of mixed hot and cold mezze to share, including baba ghanoush (smoky aubergine dip), hummus (chickpea dip), tabbouleh (bulgur wheat with parsley and tomato), kibbeh (spiced minced lamb in a baked bulgur wheat shell), sambouska (pitta bread filled with melted cheese) , arayess (pitta filled with minced lamb and parsley) and fatayer (a pastry filled with cheese and spinach, like a mini Arabic veggie Cornish pasty!). The main is a skewer each of kofte (minced lamb), lamb shish and shish tawouk (cubes of chicken breast in an amazing marinade that I've spent years trying to emulate without success!) This is served on a bed of rice with salad (which I usually leave - not a salad fan). Then, to finish off, you can either have mint tea or Arabic coffee. The mint tea comes in a mini kettle and is a light tea with fresh mint leaves in, which is lovely. The Arabic coffee is served in tiny cups, like giant thimbles. It's an acquired taste, really thick and strong with a hint of cardamom. It usually needs a ton of sugar in it to make it drinkable. Not a fan, which is why I opted for the mint tea!
If you've never had Lebanese food before, then be reassured that it's not hot and spicy or anything like that, which many people seem to think. It's spiced in a light and fragrant way, using lots of fresh herbs and is one of the best cuisines in the world in my humble (and slightly patriotically biased!) opinion.
Anyway, the restaurant itself is run by a Lebanese guy called Danny who manages to make it feel like you're in his house and not a restaurant. I always get a warm welcome when I visit Al Rouche and have gone back time and time again. Highly recommended!
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