Last month I dined at a place a little off the beaten track in Manchester, called Bakchich. Have you heard of it? I had heard great things about their Liverpool branch on Twitter, so was excited to get down there and try their Lebanese food for myself.
My only other experience of Lebanese food is of Jasmine in Chorlton, and I must say I love their food. So I had high hopes for Bakchich and their offerings.
Drinks: No alcohol but the smoothies more than make up for it
I was with my best friend, Jodie, and after the initial shock of realising they don’t serve alcohol (100% halal) we warmed to the prospect of fat-free frozen yogurt smoothies (homemade, healthy yet indulgent) to accompany our meal.
We both fell head-over-heels for the Halva & Pistachio one (pictured below, right). Sweet, nutty, malty, delicious. Halva was new to us both, so our waitress explained it was a sweet Arabic confection ingredient made using sugar and tahini (sesame seed paste).
She brought a lump of it raw for us to try (pictured below). It tasted like praline in powered form, it just sort of melted in your mouth and really made the smoothie delicious, and addictive.
Once we were finished obsessing over halva, it was time to eat.
This is the kind of place where you order a few things to share. You could do the traditional starter/main/dessert thing, but where’s the fun in that?
Jodie and I, being true little fatties at heart, decided to go all-out with 3 mezze dishes to share, followed by a main course each which we would also share.
Portion sizes were generous throughout and in my opinion the prices were consistently low across all dishes, even for things like lamb and king prawns.
Mezze: Great for sharing, perfect for indecisive people
Pictured above was the muhamara; crushed walnuts mixed with spicy harissa paste.
I absolutely love harissa, and this fine Tunisian version (pictured below, they also recycle the tins as cutlery pots – cute) takes me right back to my holiday there last year, where we ate it by the tin full everyday with olive oil and French baguettes for dipping.
Next from the mezze section was this very ‘Instagrammable’ hummus. They have a few varieties of hummus to choose from but we went for the ‘Fatat’ which was served on top of crunchy chickpeas and came topped with herbs, pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, sweet paprika and olive oil.
I am a huge fan of jazzing up plain hummus, but this took it to the next level. Loads of flavours and texture going on. The flat bread for scooping it up was lovely too.
The third and final thing from the mezze menu was the halloumi – we went for the ‘Bourkouri’ which was burghul (a bit like bulghar wheat) cooked in Lebanese spices and a tomato sauce, with the grilled halloumi resting on top. The halloumi itself was lush, well cooked and not a squeak in earshot.
Although the cheese itself was delicious, being as fanatical about halloumi as we are, we did find the amount you get with this particular dish a bit stingy.
So, next time will go for the other option which skips the wheat base, hopefully in favour of more CHEESE!
To accompany our bread and mezze dishes were some beautiful sauces. A stunning tahini sauce that usually comes served with the falafel, a spicy chilli sauce which I absolutely loved, and a yogurt dip which was tart and tasty.
Lebanese moussakka is different to Greek, in a good way
For my main dish I opted for the moussakka, as it sounded delightful and came recommended by our waitress. On the menu it read “Lebanese Moussakka: baked aubergines in a tomato sauce, onions, garlic, cumin & chickpeas.”
When it arrived, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting, as moussakka is usually layered and resembles more of a lasagne. However, I was pleasantly surprised, as although the dish doesn’t look like much the depth of flavours were stunning.
So rich yet really not heavy at all, and lovely with some rice on the side and of course, more bread for mopping it up! Much easier to eat than the stodginess of Greek moussakka, and I will be trying to re-create this lovely dish at home.
Jodie went for the Lahma Meshawi from the grill menu – marinated lamb with Lebanese spices, served with salad & Arabic rice, Arabic bread and fries. An absolute FEAST.
We shared the rice, and chips, which both were delicious. Thin and crispy fries, light and fluffy basmati rice with a lovely fragrance to it.
The meat was juicy, tender and packed full of flavour. I think they cook it over charcoal which really does give it that smoky, bbq-edge which makes all the difference.
Coconut cheesecake, traditional mint tea and extra treats
As if that wasn’t enough (I told you, we are fatties), we had a teeny bit of room for pudding, so shared the Lebanese coconut cheese cake.
Creamy, sweet, with a light, crunchy base. It was lovely, and washed down with some traditional mint tea you really can’t go wrong. The tea also aids digestion which is very helpful after so.much.food!
We also got to sample some of the baklawa (pronounced bak-la-va, aka Lebanese pastries). I know many people around the world, including Jodie, enjoy this sweet treat. But I just find them too sweet and too sickly so I gracefully declined. Jodie however assured me that they were delightful. That’s what best friends are for, right?