Time Out Says
We could hardly believe our ears when the waitress told us what was included in the mixed starter – hummus, moutabel, labneh, garlic bread, chicken wings (spicy and regular) kibbeh, onion rings and warm, fluffy Lebanese bread.
In fact, due to earlier miscommunications, I actually took a bet with my dining companion that there was no way we would receive all that for BD3.5 – I was proved happily wrong.
The hummus was, as you would expect from a restaurant with a Lebanese bent, tasty and smooth but the real surprises were the labneh and moutabel. Not usually a huge fan of either I was really taken with the moutabel which, unlike some I have tried, was light with a delicate hint of smoke and just the right combination of lemon, garlic and chilli to be moreish without being fierce.
The labneh lacked that sour yoghurt tang, so often found in this traditional dish, instead having more the consistency and flavour of a delicate cream cheese.
The kibbeh was another triumph. This minced meat and bulgar wheat dish is not hard to cook but getting the mix of herbs and spices just right can be a bit of a trial, so congrats to the Levante chef, he didn’t put a foot wrong on this one either.
Where the restaurant very definitely fell down was in bringing the main courses when we were just a few minutes into our starters. Lebanese friends tell me this is common practice so you can dip your meat in the labneh, moutabel and hummus.
But since we had both ordered mains that came with their own sauces and had actually ordered the appetizers well in advance of the entrees, we were pretty unimpressed – particularly when, having been asked to take them back and keep them warm, the waitress came back 10 minutes later, when we were clearly still ploughing through the starters, to ask if she could bring the mains yet!
Anyway, that moan aside, the entrees when they did come, were just as satisfying as the starters.
We’d asked for the venue’s two most popular dishes – I chose steak with mushroom sauce, my companion had chicken escalope.
The chicken was tender, though far too big for one quite small person, and came with a mound of mashed potatoes while the steak was slightly smaller than I would have liked and almost definitely not the fillet described on the menu but rather a much thinner and fattier cut.
We had asked the waitress what weight it would be but were met with a blank stare of confusion.
That said, the meat was tender with a hint of some sort of piquant marinade and the sauce was rich, plentiful and not overpowering.
The steak is normally served with mixed vegetables but I’d requested potato wedges which, again, came in a portion too large for the average appetite so Levante could be the ideal venue if you’re feeling really hungry.
But for the most part, with its great location, right on The Lagoon at Amwaj, and outdoor terrace, sheesha and huge range of juices, I’d recommend you stick with the mixed starter or a selection of appetizers and enjoy this venue as more of a traditional café.
The bill (for two)
1 mixed starter BD3.500
1 steak with mushroom sauce BD5.000
1 chicken escalope BD4.500
2 sparkling water BD3.00
1 mineral water BD0.700
By Time Out Bahrain staff | 30 Jan 2012
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