We seem to be going a bit Jewellery Quarter mad lately. Virtually all of this year’s new venues have opened that side of the city. It’s fair to say though that not all of the JQ is as salubrious as the rest. Our latest foray there was to Syriana restaurant specialising in Syrian and Lebanese food. It’s in one of the most beautiful, if run-down, buildings in the city on Constitution Hill, just half a mile down from alternative gastro pubs The Church and The Lord Clifden, both of which are worth a trip if you’ve not already been.
Even if you don’t like the food, the building is worth a visit, shaped like New York’s well known Flatiron building but with considerably more Victorian pomp and beauty. Built in 1896 as works and offices for die sinkers H B Sale (who are still trading just a few hundred metres from this original building) the red brick and terracotta palace was erected as a memorial to Lord Roberts of Kandahar, Commander in Chief of the British Empire. It’s now Grade II listed, though I fear its glory won’t be with us forever as it has a long list of repairs required. More info on the building if you want it is available on Wikipedia here.
We’d booked a table for six people but when we arrived we were given a table that barely seated four. Given that four of our six diners were built like rugby props, we asked to be moved to a larger table. At least it got us in to the “asking” mode, for we spent the evening asking multiple times for the food, the drinks, and the bill. After we were seated about an hour passed before any food arrived. In that time we’d been to the bar about four times as no table service was forthcoming for drinks. We were drinking “Beirut” pilsner, which was fine. The staff were friendly but largely unhelpful having no English at all, or being so rushed off their feet that they did’t have time to serve us.
Eventually our starters arrived. We had Wara Enab (vine leaves stuffed with tomato, rice, parsley and mint), Muhammar (a dip of flame grilled red peppers, almonds, chillies, and garlic), deep fried Falafel. We also had a super smokey baba ganoush which tasted as smoky as a Laphroaig. I enjoyed all of the starters, despite the wait. Nothing was bad, nothing was exceptional, but at £4 a dish that’s not surprising.
Mains were less than mediocre. My grilled chicken was dry, and a dish of minced lamb with a cheese crust was greasy and unpleasant looking. It reminded me of one of those dishes Gordon Ramsey drags out of a freezer and loses his temper about at some awful US restaurant.
The Baklawa for dessert was nice, and very cheap, just £3.
Mains are about a tenner so with a couple of drinks, two courses and a main you can dine here for £25 a head. Had the service have been better, the experience overall may have been worth repeating, especially as there are other dishes on the menu that I’d like to try. So I propose you guys go try it and let us know how you get on before we return!