Any self-respecting student knows that Curry Mile is awash not only with a huge collection of restaurants, but also a wide range of cuisines. There are, of course, Indian restaurants, but there are also Afghani, Persian, Lebanese, and many more available — should one wish to be a touch more adventurous.
Most will have spotted Beirut (the restaurant, not the city) whilst trudging up and down Curry Mile on a 142. Yet, I would hazard a guess that few have entered. Jutting out towards the road, this Lebanese restaurant offers the standard Lebanese affair, charcoal-grilled meats, flatbreads, and hummus. It also offers more exotic options such as Molokeyah, a traditional Egyptian dish, or Mansaf, a traditional Jordanian dish.
Despite having very little idea what I was getting, I ordered one dish from the charcoal grill so as to compare the slightly more standard fare, and one speciality dish, Makloubah, a Palestinian rice dish with lamb. The shish tawook, marinated and then grilled chicken cubes, was fine. Only fine. The chicken was fairly tender and tasted okay, but almost entirely lacked any flavour imparted by the grill. The onions and peppers grilled alongside it had been cut up so small they virtually disintegrated, adding nothing to the dish. Add to this the fact that the dish, costing £10, came without any sort of side. You’re looking at a fairly expensive, yet fairly bland, main course in an area where, within a stones throw you could get the same plus a side and keep a few quick in pocket.
The speciality dish was somewhat more exciting, and would therefore be the section of the menu I would recommend ordering from if you do visit. The rice was soft and fluffy, and also excellently flavoured with spices and garlic. Mixed in to the rice where chunks of onion, aubergine and potato, which also added to the flavour having been grilled prior to their addition. The lamb served with the main was well cooked, still slightly pink in the middle, but once again seemed to be lacking a touch on the flavour side. The hummus served alongside the two mains followed along on a similar path, lacking flavour, somewhat under-seasoned and generally bland. The breads were served cold, although they were soft and fluffy and would have been excellent had they been warm.
All in all, I must say I was slightly disappointed by Beirut. Lebanese food is a favourite of mine, however this was not an amazing offering, and not helped at all by the proximity of many restaurants offering food which is perhaps not only better, but also significantly cheaper. Therefore, on the whole, I shall probably be frequenting one of Curry Mile’s cheaper establishments instead.