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Restaurant review: Bakchich

AA Grill says its all in the mezze in this bit of Beirut on Bold Street

Written by . Published on November 15th 2013.

Restaurant review: Bakchich

TWO truths become apparent when you pitch up at a restaurant to find it full to bursting.

It's the right place. But it's the wrong time.

The waiter, it transpires, studied at the International Space University in Strasbourg
and worked with NASA. 
A man of the world - and not only this one

Hang about, though. Ab (Abdul to his mother), general manager and genial maitre d' at Bold Street's Lebanese street food restaurant, Bakchich, is having none of that. He doesn't know us from Adnan, yet we already feel like family as he strives to accommodate us, scanning the room for any sign of movement. 

Bakchich Bold Street Liverpool %2820%29 

Ab's eyes alight on a table: “They'll be going very soon,” he assures us. He can do better, he knows he can, and next thing he's persuading a pair of recent arrivals out of a four-berth space and into a cubicle made for two.

They good-naturedly comply and who wouldn't go along with this sophisticate who has, it transpires, studied at the International Space University in Strasbourg and worked with NASA. A man of the world, and not only this one.

Bakchich Bold Street Liverpool %2818%29MuhalabiyaSo it is, barely a minute into the fray, that we're all settled in. Ab, we agree, is Fab. Five out of five for service and we haven't seen a menu yet.

Tables line the perimeter of the restaurant with the comfy seats (banquettes) along the inside. But the place to be, if you time it right and you're feeling sociable, is the high table running down the middle of the room, a long tall galley that looks like the setting for the Last Supper, but with more laughs, all clatter and chatter; a banqueting table, talking shop, observation post.

A wood floor and low slung lighting are Liverpool restaurant 2013 standard; one whole wall devoted to a callagraphic Arabic exaltation of God, is not.

Bakchich Bold Street Liverpool %285%29
It has been said that the drama of Lebanese cuisine is all in the first act. Thereafter, the chefs run out of steam, or wood-lump charcoal. Our visit supported this theory; thus, to avoid leaving readers in a state of anticlimax, and in a break from restaurant review protocol, the results of our findings are announced in reverse order, a bit like Miss World or, in this case, Mezze World.

Lebanon is not big on desserts, nor deserts for that matter, being the only Arab country without one. Accordingly, Bakchich buys them in (desserts, not deserts) like muhalabiya (£3.50), a timid milk custard that's actually Egyptian, and gelatinous Lebanese cheese cake (£3.50) which was fine but, really, unless it bears the words “New York baked” before it, cheese cake (or cheesecake, even) should not be given the time of day.

Bakchich Bold Street Liverpool %281%29 

In the middle of proceedings there are wraps, and some dishes that might be better off in wraps, like mix shawarma platter (£7.95), spiced chicken (a little dry) and lamb (a little tame) which gave the impression of a filling come loose from its carb garb; a wrap for the Atkins generation. With fries, from a bag, and a hearty salad, this plateful required a pretty loose definition of street food. 

Bakchich Bold Street Liverpool %2812%29Mixed shawarma platter

Kabsa b'laham (£8.95) slow-cooked, highly-seasoned lamb tasted good but was nigh on fifty per cent fat, while samek mechwi, a whole spiced charcoal-grilled fish (£11.95), in this case sea bream, with rice and more big salad, was moist, fresh-tasting and flavoursome.

Bakchich Bold Street Liverpool %287%29
As promised, the best, which came first, is last, if you see what I mean. F
alafel (£3.95) is the ultimate Middle Eastern fast food, sold like hot dogs by vendors on street corners, and probably the most pleasurable packaging for protein known to Earthlings; blitzed chickpea and broad bean croquettes, they came gently spiced and deep fried, soft without a hint of dryness, served with the simplest, loveliest salad of peppper, parsley and cucumber dressed in olive oil, lemon and a dash of (unspecified) Lebanese spice.

Bakchich Bold Street Liverpool %2810%29Kabsa b'laham 

Sawda djej, sauteed chicken livers (£3.95), had lingered overlong in the pan, buts their sauce of garlic and spices with the sweet sour tang of pomegranate molasses displayed a deeply forgiving nature.

Bakchich Bold Street Liverpool %286%29Sawda djejJawaneh machwi, chicken wings with creamy garlic sauce and a harissa whose complexity matched its intensity, were dangerously moreish, as were batata harra  (£3.50), spicy potatoes in red pepper, coriander, garlic, cumin and fresh red chilli.

They are not licensed for alcohol, so we enjoyed Lebanese tea of rose, cardomom and thyme (£2), light, delicate, delightfully fragrant; and later, Arabic coffee (£1.95), earthy, dense but not bitter, with a sludge at the bottom of the pot you can take home to stain the floorboards.

Bakchich Bold Street Liverpool %2816%29
Afore we go, Ab wants to know how we enjoyed ourselves, why we didn't mention that fatty lamb sooner because they would, of course, have replaced it. His soul may inhabit a place beyond the stratosphere, but in the down-to-earth environment of Bakchich, he shows how a ready smile, a friendly manner and an eagerness to please can make a diner's day. It's not rocket science.

ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL. Critics dine unannounced and the company picks up the bill




Food         6/10 
Service     5/5 
Ambience  4/5


Bakchich Lebanese Restaurant 
54 Bold Street
Liverpool, L1 4HR
Telephone:  0151 707 1255

Website here

Bakchich Bold Street Liverpool %282%29
Venues are rated against the best 
examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against other cafes etc.  Following on from this the scores represent: 

     Straight in the dog bowl

6-9:     Get the chippy 
10-11: It's an emergency
12-13: If you happen to be passing
14-15: Worth a trip out 
16-17: Very good to exceptional 
18-20: As good as it gets 

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AnonymousNovember 16th 2013.

Very well written and balanced review. Thank you

TonyNovember 16th 2013.

Have been ,not keen.

AnonymousNovember 17th 2013.

Been but was less than impressed.

mrsmarsaNovember 22nd 2013.

I've been and thought it was great!

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I've been and thought it was great!

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Been but was less than impressed.

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Have been ,not keen.

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Very well written and balanced review. Thank you

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