I moved into Stretford a few years back when I returned to the UK, having previously resided in a number of countries around the world. My work overseas was one of the main catalysts for my love of different styles of food.
One of the areas that I spent some time, was throughout the Middle East, taking small groups on tours and taking in sights from Egypt into Jordan and finally across the border into Syria.
The local food I had to try on these trips were out of this world yet so simple. Wholesome falafel in bread with lashings of hummus were one of my go to eats, so when I heard that the small site known as 1116 Chester Road or 1116 Bistro was being taken over by a Syrian gent by the name of Samir, I was immediately pleased, especially with it being less than a 10 minute walk from my front door.
On opening I expected there to be a buzz with everyone booking in and what with other commitments and getting our calender’s to synchronise, I put off attending, for far far too long. That was until this week (And now I’m gutted I waited so long)
The small unit on Chester Road only has room for around 20 covers and the interior still looks the same as it has for the number of pop ups that have based themselves here for short stints including the fabulous Hip Hop Chip Shop.
It is clear that Samir has his work cut out right now, working the restaurant by himself. He spots us looking at the artwork on the walls, that doesn’t quite seem to fit in, he beams with delight as he explains that they are not his pictures and he has new ones to replace them with, which he shows us in an excited fashion. It is obvious that Samir has plans to turn this into a real gem, once time and money allow.
Samir is originally from Hom’s in Syria, but has also worked in a 200 cover restaurant in Tripoli, so its clear to see the inspiration for his dishes.
The menu is small and simple, with more than a few dishes that immediately catch my eye.
Hummus with some flat bread is of course a must, it is served in a small bowl with decoration and care plus it tastes great.
The Falafel parcels are shaped into little hearts, crispy on the outside and fluffy and tasty in the middle.
Batata Harra (Meaning Hot Potatoes) is again a dish that is bursting with flavours which is common in Lebanese restaurants.
Another Lebanese favourite consist of little cheese rolls, crispy pasty cigars filled with a tasty cheese filling.
Salads are varied, with options of Fattoush or Tabbouleh
To be honest, I could just sit here and eat lots of small plates, but no Middle Eastern Feast is complete without a main dish, usually of some kind of Kebab. Options again are varied with us going for the Sheesh Tavooq and Chicken Shawarma.
Both dishes with full of flavour, the Lamb being cooked perfectly with a little serving of salad with the option of rice or chips. The chicken was tangy and delicious, and went perfectly with the hummus that we still had left over.
Unfortunately we were bursting at the seams and could not manage anything else.
The meal for 4 with a drink each came to under £60, which was a complete bargain as we left stuffed.
Only soft drinks are served, however you can take your own booze with a corkage charge of £1 for beer or £5 for wine.
Currently Samir is open from 4pm – 10pm while he builds up his customer base, but he is looking to extend these hours and looking to serve up some favourite Arabic breakfast items such as Ful, a fava bean middle eastern delight.
Samir’s can be found at 1116 Chester Road, Stretford, Manchester M32 0HA, with bookings available by calling Samir on 07776 797339