I wasn’t planning on posting today but I couldn’t resist a little bonus post This is not following my Vegan MoFo theme. I’ll be back on the A-Z next week, with the letter F on Monday.
As I’m shortly leaving Oxford to move to a new city my Mum asked if there was anywhere I’d like to go out to eat for a “farewell” meal. I didn’t have to think twice about my choice as Al Shami is my favourite Oxford restaurant. It’s not vegan, nor even vegetarian but is incredibly vegan-friendly and all vegan dishes are clearly marked with Ve on the menu. Apparently a new menu is in the works with info for those avoiding gluten and nuts too.
It’s a Lebanese restaurant and if you’ve been reading Coconut and Berries a little while you’ll know that Middle-Eastern might just be my favourite cuisine!
The restaurant’s not particularly fancy at all but it’s definitely authentic
There are so many dishes to choose from that it’s best to go with a few people so that you can try more! Most of the dishes are “Meze” (small plates) anyway so order lots! Although I was eating with omnivores everyone was very happy to eat vegan and let me take charge of the ordering.
Here’s what we got :
Mohammara Bil-Jawz– Mixed crushed nuts, red capsicum, olive oil and spices
My love of dips probably warms me to Lebanese food as there are so many, and all completely different. This is rich and slightly spicy.
Fattoush– Mixed salad with herbs and toasted Lebanese bread
A traditional salad with plenty of parsley and lemon, just how I like it.
They automatically bring a basket of flatbread and a plate of salad to the table- lettuce, tomato, raw carrot and pepper, radishes and pickles- which is nice to nibble on to start with or to use to scoop up the delicious dips and other dishes.
Moutabel– Puréed aubergines, tahini, lemon juice, garlic
The phrase “looks can be deceiving” comes to mind with this dish as it looks slightly bland and insipid. I don’t know how they managed it but it had a fantastic smoky flavour. I thought it must be smoked paprika but it’s not red coloured so I’m perplexed… Any suggestions? I really want to recreate this one!
Falafel– Ground chickpeas and broad beans mixed with spices, fried
Does anyone not like falafel?! These were rather a treat as I always bake rather than fry the falafel I make at home. I adore them anyway but they’re quite different to these crispy little morsels.
Ardi-Shoki- Artichokes with selected vegetables cooked in our special sauce
The cute name alone enticed me into ordering this one (!), but it was delicious too. I’ve not had artichokes cooked like this before- I usually just use them to top pizza to be honest but they soaked up the sweet, tangy sauce wonderfully.
It came served with rice…
Mujadara– Cracked wheat, lentils and fried onions (This comes with yogurt but we asked them to omit this).
I’m going to be on the look out for cracked wheat like this as the bulgur I’ve bought before is finer and doesn’t have the same toothsome quality.
I forgot to get a picture of this dish but you can kind of see it in the first photo- Zahra Maqlia– Fried cauliflower topped with tahini, parsley, garlic, lemon juice. Gosh was this good. The cauliflower is wonderfully tender but crisp and draped in silky tahini sauce. We were so stuffed but couldn’t bear to leave any of this behind.
There were four of us eating and it all came to only £8 a head (excluding drinks)! Seriously good value I think. For some reason it wasn’t listed on Happy Cow so I’ve just added it to the listings so other vegans/vegetarians visiting Oxford can find out about it.
Are you a Middle-Eastern food fan? Which dish looks best to you?