Bakchich opened last month on Bold Street on the site of the demised Jacobs photography shop. Serving Lebanese street food inspired dishes we have previously sampled early offerings during its run at Food Slam Fridays in Camp and Furnace prior to its opening.
The décor of the restaurant is modern and simple; the first thing you notice upon entering is the tall and long table dominating the centre of the room. Perfect for big groups and ideal for the whole lamb feasts which would surely be needed to hold all of the food judging by what we could see. Around the centre table on one side are smaller tables for two which can easily be pushed together to accommodate larger groups. On the other side was the open kitchen.
We were seated swiftly and were asked for our drinks orders within a minute. Most of the staff were school/college aged it seemed and the service certainly showed. We ordered a pomegranate and orange blossom lemonade and a Bakchich panache mixed fruit juice. I asked what fruits it contained and was quickly told “mixed fruit juices” and then followed up with “I don’t know!” We are used to swift and unengaging service from hawker stalls in Hong Kong so this didn’t faze us. What came was a wonderful zingy mixed juice which contained as far as we could tell a concoction of orange, apple, carrot and ginger.
Given a bit more time to decide on the food order we decided on a mezze platter consisting of hummos, baba ghannouj (aubergine), falafels, tabouleh (chopped parsley, mint tomatoes, lemon juice), manakeesh jibne (cheese bread), pickles and salad. Along with Kibbeh Shamiya (minced lamb wheat parcels) and a house speciality of Kabsa B’laham (lamb on the bone and rice). Whilst waiting for our food observing the service was a comical experience, our neighbouring tables had even less time than us to decide on their drinks. Tables were cleared and wiped down whilst customers went to the bathroom.
Our food arrived after a short while, the mezze platter was gigantic, especially as it was supposed to be for one, a larger size for two people was also available which would have occupied the whole table! The chickpea hommos was smooth and addictive. The falafels were not overcooked and were fragrant inside with coriander and garlic. I wasn’t too keen on the purple pickled turnip but the green pickles were good. The tabouleh of chopped parsley were interesting for the first few mouthfuls but there was simply too much of it.
The Kabsa B’laham resembled a biryani type dish with fragrant rice and lamb served on the bone. I shredded the lamb and mixed it with the rice which was a joy. By itself the lamb would have been too dry but it was ideal when combined with the rice. We were not so keen on the lamb parcels however and they seemed quite bland compared to the other dishes.
Back to the service where training should definitely be on the cards as it will improve the diners experience and even raise revenue. For example we tried to order some more drinks but it proved difficult to do so and we gave up in the end, it seems that after the food is delivered then staff switch off on those tables. The table next to us waited a good while for their bill. However we were not expecting silver service but the food shows promise and service definitely needs to improve. The portion sizes of some of the meat dishes was astonishing, in particular the large portions of the mixed grill and chicken, next time I’m starving I know what to choose!