The Cinnamon Stick in Middle Barton was absolutely packed to the rafters when we arrived for dinner on Friday night, which was wonderful to behold.
Not exactly on the main drag, The Cinnamon Stick relies instead on its esteemed reputation, regulars returning time and time again for chef patron Khalid Mohammed‘s authentic, varied and plentiful Middle Eastern food.
Hailing from Syria, when Khalid and his wife Lauren first opened up in 2017 in former village pub The Carpenters Arms, it was a big risk.
I remember looking around the ample interior wondering how they would ever fill it. Fast forward five years and now it’s the opposite.
Slowly but surely, news of their delicious menu has spread, the perfect fodder for large groups, sharing plates and feasting, without breaking the bank – the perfect celebration venue then.
Luckily we’d booked a table weeks in advance and managed to squeeze in as groups, families and friends caroused around us.
Just reading the menu was a joy, all the old favourites begging for a revisit. We threw a few new dishes into the mix and sat back with a glass of Syrian wine, another first.
The old faithfuls then – the Moutabel (like a baba ghanoush it’s a smokey grilled aubergine dip), homemade Houmous, lovely thin flatbreads, several portions of the Zahra Makila (fried cauliflower florets with a tahini sauce that I literally salivate over), the crisp, clean iron tasting Tabbouleh – (basically a finely sliced, lemony parsley salad that I could eat ALL DAY), the Kellage Halloumi (pittas with melted halloumi like a Middle Eastern toastie) the Mudammas – fava beans in an oily, sharp, tangy dressing – another massive favourite.
A portion of the Batata Harra – diced potatoes baked with chilli, garlic and coriander – like a Lebanese patatas bravas, and the ‘moussaka’ which was nothing like its Greek counterpart but more of a rich, slightly, sweet, smoky bean stew.
Pastry parcels of deliciousness came in the form of Kibben Sebanikh (wheat crust stuffed with spinach, pine nuts and onion) and the Sanbousek Bil Jibneh filled with feta and mint.
The Jawaneh chicken wings were rather underwhelming on the meat front, but the lamb Kofta Khaskhash (kebab) (£14.50) – beautifully spiced with its thick tomatoey sauce – was a big hit.
Puds – a lovely creamy muhlaya made with almond milk rose water and pistachio, and some crispy golden baklava dripping with nuts and honey.
All-in-all it was £30 a head with wine and beer which was such good value, considering what a feast we’d enjoyed, and as always The Cinnamon Stick did us proud.
The Cinnamon Stick in Middle Barton is at https://www.thecinnamonstick.co.uk