Byblos Cafe6 Park Road,
0141 339 7980
£ – inexpensive
££ – mid-price
£££ – expensive
££££ – very expensive
Review published on 12/08/2013 © Sunday Herald
So here we are, eating a super-fresh tabbouleh salad full of parsley and bulgar wheat, chunks of sweet onion and lemon. Then come the flatbreads: made, folded and stuffed with cheese or laid flat out and coated with spiced mince by the family who run this cafe. But how did we get here, when were supposed to have been on the other side of the city, eating Spanish food instead of Lebanese?
Well ... call it Groupon fatigue. Or discount downer. We went in the other place, stood at the door, waited and waited. And waited. Eventually someone came through from a bar area and asked us if we wanted to eat and if so what discount vouchers did we have. Groupon, Itison, he ran though them all. And we had none. Not a one.
But you know what? Apparently, even when everyone else is paying half-price and we could see their vouchers at the till we could still pay full-price. If we were in the mood. Tonight we werent so we upped and left. Politely, of course, apologising even, and after a quick tour of the new places in town came tumbling in here just because it looked busy and bustling.
That great tabbouleh later, one of those manakish flatbreads served up on greaseproof paper and we are into the mezzes. Loubleh bzelt yes, copied the spelling from the menu turns out be a delicious simple stew of green beans and potatoes. Kebbe Lamb is crispy, fried meatballs with a dash of lamb and more than a dash of bulgar wheat. The spicy lebanese sausages called Soujouk are less of a success, largely because they seem to have come limp and super-heated straight from the microwave. But the okra stew is lovely and full of fresh coriander.
The decor in here is simple, with a big window out front and a handful of tables spread around the walls. The front door is open and warm evening air is coming in. Theres a counter facing us with drink cans piled into the chilled bit and bags of crisps laid out beside the till. Looks a bit odd, but we wont hold that against them. The music starts off with an irritating techno buzzy headachy thing, but seeing the raised eyebrows at the tables the young boy in charge of the remote control switches it to something less annoying.
Now for the bit where we get to meet the whole family. This is because we thought we had ordered two of Combo Platter Number One with its two hot and one cold mezze, its main dish and drink for £12.99 and one or two extras. And the mum and the dad in the kitchen thought we had ordered everything on the menu. Or it feels like that as the second plate of six dolmades comes out and actually the first werent that great. Also on the table is a huge plateful of very good crispy chickpea falafel with tahini sauce, pickled vegetables and all the trimmings. Theres a so-so fattoush salad and a chicken shawarma wrapped in flatbread and served with garlic sauce and even more shawarma on a plate with rice and salad.
A quick word on shawarma: it contains seven spices specially imported from Lebanon, or so the dad will tell me in a few minutes. It still tastes like fried chicken bits to me. Anyway. A halt is called to the kitchen production. First the mum then the dad are over at the table going over our order. Eyes are looking crossly at the person who took the order. Is it his fault? Well, maybe. No. We werent exactly clear. An easy mistake to make. So the bill is adjusted very heavily in our favour and were all great friends. Not that it was ever going to be expensive anyway at the discount-free prices in here.