We arrived at 8pm, it looks like a 90's takeaway from the outside but as soon as you pass through the door it's like portal to... the 1980s. It's like a strange mix of my nans house and an 80's curry house, but with added grainy black and white copies of ancient ruins, random horse statues, hand painted strange flowery murals, 99p potted plants from tesco and even more curious items (my favourite was the really tatty old tiger rug on the wall).
We were greeted by friendly staff and promptly taken to our table, as you would expect. Up the old worn out stairs we went, past a stack of chairs as high as the ceiling. Best place for them really, right by the stairs.
We got a couple of drinks. A coke (can of), a jug of water, and a mint tea which came in a lovely 80's teacup and saucer, no arabesque vessel, no gilded samovar, it tasted alright though but I make better tea myself.
For starters we ordered hummus which came with pitta and sujuk (lamb sausages). The hummus was very nice, topped with cumin powder and a nice olive oil. The pitta was just a packet job warmed up, it was nice though. The sujuk were alright I've had better from Turkish takeaways. However these did seem well made and were nicely spiced you could appreciate the lamb flavour, but they weren't executed very well two of them were very dried at one end.
For mains we ordered the Aladdin Pasha (ooooh, sounds exciting) which came with rice and the Maklobeh (rice with lamb, aubergine, pine nuts, herbs and spices). Now this is where it gets disappointing. The Aladdin Pasha was just some plain kofte in a very basic tomato, onion and bell pepper sauce. The rice was OK, it had vermicelli in it which is sort of fun I guess. Where's the Arab flair? Where was the bahārāt, the somaq, the pomegranate molasses? Boring, definitely not fit for a Sultan. The Maklobeh was pretty much the same, it was basic rice with some lamb pieces and fried aubergine slapped on top with a miniscule sprinkle of cinnamon and parsley. Where were the pine nuts? I didn't see a single pine nut. There was also no yogurt or tahina sauce accompaniment, the lamb wasn't cooked with any spice, the rice was devoid of spice, the aubergines were spiceless too, it was a very bland affair. This is not Arab food as I know it, Arab food is rich, fllavoursome and spicy with generous portions. I got a small spiceless portion and for £9? A bit of a joke.
We got the bill, to which service charge was added. 10%. A 10% service charge for a party of two? Cheeky, all they did was bring us a couple of dishes, glasses and a jug. Efforts worth 10% of our food bill? No.
It's just not very good in here, very disappointing. It seems like Arab food on a budget, get as many in as you can and give them the basic stuff with no frills. This place needs a revamp. You can go to Rusholme in one of the many Afghan places and get food much nicer, much more of it and much cheaper.
Aladdin had a magic carpet, this place just has old tattered ones on the wall.
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