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Restaurant review: Saharaa

Fat Git discovers a middle eastern jewel behind the Everyman while fiddling with his aerial on the rank

Published on February 7th 2011.


Restaurant review: Saharaa

 

THERE'S nothing like a bit of hot Lebanese action, but getting it in Liverpool is harder than you think.

Unless you know where to look – and that's in The Guardian.

Last week a fare left one in the back of the cab. It was old, wrinkled and well-thumbed.

The hummous was topped by lamb that had enjoyed a long slow marination, its warm juices running into the chick pea puree to superb effect. I often beat my own meat in the kitchen, so I can appreciate this

This would do to keep the seats clean, I thought, as I slowly applied the handbrake and pulled off the rank.

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It was time to valet the cab after a week of night collar Christmas action; punters trooping through like Lewis's grotto and leaving a sticky fog of stale kebabs and chips, Paco Rabanne, spilled WKD and worse.

The Febreze wasn't up to this lot, although it does the job underarm when it gets sweaty on the bimble. Nor was the Henry. This was going to have to be a hand job.

I needed a sit-down for this, and that's when I saw the article written by some bird who works in one of the theatres. “My Merseyside” it was called, and it told you where to go and mentioned hookahs.

For the umpteenth time I wondered how come they never ask Fat Git where to go? The Guardian would do well to come to Liverpool and get tips from me. They could call it “A taxi driver's Merseyside”.

1712009Sa6lg
I may frequently be forced to blow my own horn, but let me tell you, I am a seasoned and well-travelled man of the world and therefore unusual in Liverpool. My opinions are trusted, my experience vast and, having been on incapacity benefit for 17 years, I have had plenty of practice brushing up on my typing skills – if you know what I mean.

I have also eaten in the finest restaurants that the international Michelin guide can throw up, and speaking of throwing up, the reason I found myself on my knees on the floor this day was all down to an accident that Kruger, my cousin Tony's dog, had had. I often have WAGs in the back, but not literally. Kruger gets travel sick. Either that or it was the box of Ferrero Rochers he'd robbed.

All over the seat. All credit to him though: he'd done a good job of “hoovering” it all up again himself. If only the Victoria Street fares were as thoughtful. He'd growled at me when I tried to intervene. But what was left wasn't getting any better.



I continued rubbing away feverishly. I would be needing a bucket at this rate. Not just a roll of Andrex.

1712009Sa3lg
Could I be doing with it? No. Not when the bird in the paper was going on about this restaurant called Sahara. To quote: “Situated directly behind the Everyman is this excellent Lebanese restaurant. The food is fantastically fresh, the portions enormous, the prices very reasonable and the atmosphere unique, with hubba-bubba pipes aplenty: the scene of many a cast party. BYO wine. 36 Townsend Lane, 0151 260 1608.

Now I don't know about you, but 36 Townsend Lane, 0151 260 1608, is NOT behind the Everyman. Not unless they've moved the Everyman to Walton. And they accuse cabbies of taking people around the houses.

The gaffer on here told me it's so off the radar that the London Guardian probably couldn't check it so just went to Google Maps. Maybe Sahara was a mirage in Walton, she chuckled softly before hanging up abruptly in the middle of things.

Once again, I was forced to take matters into my own hands.

Saharaa is in Arrad Street. And I didn't need sat nav to find this oasis. It doesn't sell alcohol and neither does the open-all-hours shop next door.

“I can do you a couple of cans of Red Bull,” the lad in there offered.

“How old d'you think we are? 17?” retorted our kid Tony.

It's called Saharaa, with two As, not one.

It was excellent.

1712009Sa4lg
Huge, cheap portions of delicious, fresh food. Mezzes with kick, hummous with zest, king prawns with succulence and the size of a fat thumb. Moreish sausages that are spicy. Moorish kebabs that are tender and meaty. It's all cooked perfectly.

The décor: loud and proud. Proper middle eastern bazaar. The waitress, efficient and as gorgeous and exotic as the food. The clientèle is middle eastern young men and women, university lectures, actors, and everything in between. Yet Saharaa has not a pretension and we grazed on dish after dish.

The idea of crushed nuts covered in chilli makes any blood red male like myself fairly wince, but Muhammara (£2.75), was such a sexy and worthy alternative to a boring bowl of hummous that it's a shame Tesco's don't make it. The hummous we did have (Hummous Bil Laham, £3.50) was topped by lamb that had enjoyed a long slow marination, its warm juices running into the chick pea puree to superb effect on the palate.

At home I often beat my own meat in the kitchen, so I could appreciate this.

Soujouk, spicy beef and lamb sausages (£3.50) were mixed with zingy herbs and tasted like they'd been made that day, as did the kafta, middle eastern hamburger, if you like, that came as part of a delicious mixed grill of shish and chicken kebab. (£8.50).

1712009Sa5lg
They also understand seafood in here, unlike a lot of home-grown chefs, and Gambara (a massive plate of prawns in a proper garlicky and lemon sauce at £9.50) will keep content any wuss who has never been exposed to proper authentic spicy stuff. Probably a lot of you, judging by your rants on recent restaurant reviews

Strangely for a man of my girth, I didn't have a dessert. I had enjoyed an instant pudding just earlier.

I was only £28 lighter when we left, which left plenty of cash to pay for my own hookah.

For vowing to return to this gem. I went back into the cab, whistling cheerily, with plenty of Vim for the back seat and plenty of vigour for the front.

Yes, I would enjoy waxing the bonnet later on.

Rating:17.5/20
Breakdown:8.5/10 food
4.5/5 service
4.5/5 ambience
Address:Saharaa
Arrad Street
(behind the Everyman)
Liverpool,
L7 7HX
0151 706 0111
(open from 4pm-midnight)


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: Go to Beirut: 6-9: Go to Townsend Lane, 10-11: Fez up and desperate 12-13: Roll your own, 14-15: Seize the pipe, 16-18:Souk it and see, 19: A little oasis, 20. Spice paradise. More than 20: Hookahs all round

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

DigDecember 17th 2009.

I see what you mean Mrs.Grill.

Hugh PhemismDecember 17th 2009.

Has Fat Git been "aiding and abetting a known felon" again

AnonymousDecember 17th 2009.

I like to drain my spuds in the kitchen from time to time

Sidney GreenstreetDecember 17th 2009.

Surely a fellow can only avail himself of the hookahs outdoors?

Mike HomfrayDecember 17th 2009.

Don't know how I have managed to miss this one - is it new?

Chris DDecember 17th 2009.

Been here many a time, always fantastic food - and surprisingly cheap! Highly reccomended.

Howard MarksDecember 17th 2009.

I've always been fond of a good Lebanese, or some Moroccan come to that.

T.E. LawrenceDecember 17th 2009.

I've always preferred some Turkish myself........

AnonymousDecember 17th 2009.

Accurate score and a delightful little restaurant that deserves to be tried.

x-manDecember 17th 2009.

Filthy but funny

Warrior CrusaderDecember 17th 2009.

Hi The Secret is now out of the bag,or shall I say gene is out of the bottle. The food here is fantastic,I have been going there for over a year. It is the only Arab eating place in the City,now that the anti smoking dickheads closed the eygyptian plsce in Myrtyle Parade.If any boby is going to this eating place it is worth getting a bottle of Lebanese wine from the Bekka Valley,a very nice combintaion. It took the fat git sometime to find this.

Sandy ClackDecember 17th 2009.

I like to go to the Saharaa because of the sandwhich's there.

CarlosDecember 17th 2009.

Only Arab eating place in the city? Have those two places on London Road closed down also?

CuriousDecember 17th 2009.

Where did it mention that it was the only Arab eating place in the city Carlos?

CarlosDecember 17th 2009.

Warrior Crusader suggested this a few comments up, Curious.

CuriousDecember 17th 2009.

Ah, sorry Carlos. There is also the excellent Kimo's, every bit Arabic

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Latest Rants

mrsmarsa

I've been and thought it was great!

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Anonymous

Been but was less than impressed.

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Tony

Have been ,not keen.

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Anonymous

Very well written and balanced review. Thank you

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