Shaam Nights, City Road, Cardiff

I very nearly called this post ‘Why everyone should stop eating shitty Nandos’.

I couldn’t sleep last night for several reasons – I’d eaten late, I was SO full, I had meat sweats, I was thinking how good the food was that had given me said meat sweats, and was moping about how everyone was missing out on what I’d just eaten. Tough life.

Going to a good Persian/Turkish/Lebanese kebab restaurant on City Road in Cardiff has been on my ‘to do’ for a while now, and last night a last minute decision was made to tick it off my list. My house mates and I ventured to the Middle-Eastern end of Cardiff in the hope of finding lots of meat. I don’t buy meat in my weekly food shop, so when I eat out, I want it all.

Me being me, I scoured blogs (namely gourmetgorro), Tripadvisor and restaurant websites to pinpoint the exact restaurant we would be going to. I settled on Shaam Nights – a Syrian/ Lebanese place. And it was a great decision.

We all got juices or smoothies to start. I went for the melon juice (£2.50), which wasn’t a juice but more of a smoothie blended with yoghurt I think.

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It was the best non-alcoholic drink I have ever tasted. So sweet but fresh and delicious. I just can’t even begin to imagine how good it would taste sipping it on a sun lounger on a beach. I managed to make it last the whole meal so I would have some left at the end as a little pudding.

For starter I went for the Baba Ghannough (£3), described as ‘grilled aubergine, onion, sweet peppers, pomegranate syrup and olive oil served with bread.’

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The Baba was pleasant. You could taste each ingredient but it wasn’t as sweet as I would have expected and didn’t really have any sort of punch of flavour. I thought there would have been some depth from a rich olive oil but there wasn’t, and it was under seasoned for me. Never the less it was reasonably tasty, and the bread was huge. A bargain for £3.

For main I went for Chicken Frekah (£9), ‘a traditional Middle Eastern dish, half roasted chicken and Frekah (roasted crushed wheat) served with yoghurt cucumber salad.’

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Firstly, the size of this dish was huge. So much Frekah. And boy was it good.

I have no idea what spices were on the chicken or in the wheat, but I really didn’t care because it tasted so good and there was so much of it. The juicy chicken slid off the bone and right into my mouth. The yoghurt on the side was equally delicious and cooled down the hot sauce (that came on the table) which I smothered onto half on my Frekah. And good hot sauce it was too.

My fellow diners went for the classic Mixed Shish (£10) with rice which looked unreal and tasted as good too apparently.

We left feeling utterly stuffed and happy – both by the food, and the fact that the service was so friendly. We were even given a 10% discount card for our next visit and told to tell all our friends about them – tapping in on the fact that students know students know students…. I will be sure to recommend though.

The fact that I ordered half a chicken lead me to compare my meal with a certain chain of restaurant that is famous for spicy chicken – Nando’s. Firstly, I have never liked Nando’s, and now I have something better to compare it to, I like it even less. Does their chicken fall off the bone? No. It is overpriced? Yes. Is it all about branding? Yes. Should you support your local, independent, family run restaurants who serve better, authentic  food for the same price if not cheaper? Yes. I can’t wait for the day that the trend of eating in Nando’s ends and everyone realises there are better things right on your doorstep. Oop I got a bit ranty there. Anyways, I’m looking forward to visiting Shaam again, potentially with 20 friends so we can justify ordering the whole lamb for £220. Tehe.

http://www.shaamnights.com/

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