He came, he saw, he’s on his way to conquering the challenge of building a successful restaurant.
Sizar Alandari (his first name’s pronounced the same way as the emperor) is proud that Rowsha restaurant in Walkley is ranked number nine out of 599 Sheffield restaurants on the Trip Advisor website.
The owner of the Lebanese restaurant on South Road has cannily given customers feedback cards to fill in when they pay their bill, which ask them to rate the restaurant on the Trip Advisor website as well.
Most recent responses include “Very tasty mezza and excellent service with a smile” and “Small place but good food”.
The service with a smile was very much in evidence from a very pleasant and efficient young woman who, like her boss, isn’t Lebanese. She told us she is half Algerian when we were chatting and Siza is actually Syrian, although he has very strong family links to Lebanon.
He came here in 2005, eventually sought asylum and citizenship and calls Sheffield home.
Sizar says he’s frustrated that he can’t source a lot of ingredients in Sheffield and relies on London suppliers.
That includes for the Almaza pilsner lager I tried (pretty good) and a range of wines. My beer cost £3 and the wine will cost £16.95 to £28.50 a bottle.
House wines are £12.95 a bottle or £4.50 a glass.
The surroundings are pleasant with earthy colours on the walls and Middle Eastern style wall sconces.
The starter menu is dominated by hot and cold mezza (mezze) dishes, which are little plates. There’s enough to make a meal up of them.
We shared three – tabbouleh (£4.20), makdous (£4) and batata harra (£4.50).
The tabbouleh is a classic Middle Eastern salad of bulghar wheat with lots of parsley, mint, tomato and onion is an olive oil and lemon dressing. It was full of fresh flavour but not much bulghar.
The batata was sauteed potatoes in coriander and garlic, topped with peppers. It’s like a milder patatas bravas and was very tasty.
The makdous is pickled baby aubergines stuffed with chopped walnuts, garlic and spices and the pickling gives it good piquancy.
Main choices are meat, chicken, fish and vegetarian.
I opted for sayadieh (£13.50) and my friend had fasouliah bil lahem (£8.95).
Mine was a well-cooked salmon fillet topped with a rich, creamy tajin sauce and chopped peppers. It came with a big helping of pleasant rice and a good sharp, spicy tomato sauce.
Linda’s lamb stew with white beans in a garlicky tomato sauce had a good flavour but it was a shame the meat wasn’t tender like the beans. She also got rice.
Portions are big but we decided to share some knefeh (£3.90) so we could report back.
This was a baklava-style dish layered with cream cheese and it is a lot less sweet than baklava as it’s not soaked in syrup. Pretty good too.
We had that with a great pot of mint tea (£1.50 each).
The bill came to £47.35.
Rowsha, 288 South Road, Walkley. 0114 2331166. Website: www.rowsha.co.uk