1 year ago

Argan; authentic and refreshing

Argan are experts in hospitality. It’s impossible to walk out of that place without a full heart… and maybe an extra contact in your phone.

Argan have had their location on Venn Street for years. 25 years, to be precise. They’ve seen a lot of change over that time; the pedestrianisation of Venn Street and the expansion of their restaurant to the space it is now. What’s not changed in those years is the incredible family-style hospitality that wraps it’s customers as soon as you step in the door. As soon as you are seated you will be treated as one of their own; the service is constantly attentive and you’ll experience a sort of running conversation with your server as they bring out dishes to you. It gets to a point where you really wouldn’t mind if any of the staff pulled up a chair and had a dip of your humus.

As we sat down a sisha pipe was lit. That really set the tone for lunch, and well, it was a Friday. Made with ‘kiwi, watermelon, strawberry and love‘ (that last ingredient was really emphasised) we were promised it to be the best shisha we’d ever tried. Now we would never claim to be a shisha expert, having only ever had a few puffs here and there, but this was disarmingly fun. Yep, could really taste that love, and was quite a fun starter for the meal. If you are in the shisha mood, we can’t imagine you’d be able to find one as good as this- they’re happy to increase or decrease the strength and change the flavours depending on your preference too.

To ease into our meal we had an authentic mint tea. This was no Twinings. Bought to our table and poured with such ceremony from a height, it looked almost like a really small, frothy larger. According to the owner ‘…if there is no hat, it is not proper tea’. After a couple of questions we discovered that the ‘hat’ he was referring to were the collection of bubbles atop the tea. That’s us told. After all of that unsurprisingly, the tea was really good. Subtly sweet in its minty flavour it prepped us well for the bold flavours coming our way.

Usually at this point we’d run you through the things we had from the menu. But in the case of Argan and their signature hospitality, it is might be easier to rule out the few things we didn’t have from the menu. But that wouldn’t work either… so here’s a comprehensive list of all the things we tried:

  • Sambousek cheese
  • Humus
  • Baba Ganouj
  • Lebanese flatbreads
  • Lamb kibbeh
  • Fattoush
  • Tabouleh
  • Fatayer spinach
  • Fatayer lamb
  • Falafel
  • Mixed grill plate
  • Chicken shawarma
  • Both the lamb and the chicken tagines

Please excuse us whilst we fall into a deep, deep food coma.

According to our servers, the tagines are one of the most popular items on the menu. They come in beautiful clay pots and are revealed in a steamy flourish. The lamb comes with dates, the chicken with juicy olives and both with a mini plate of fluffy couscous to soak up the incredibly flavoursome juices that collect in the pot. We totally understand why this one gets constantly reordered.

The mezze selection was impressive to say the least. Scarred by that Tesco Value stuff from our student days, we’ve had a lot of dodgy ‘humus and dips’ in our time. Argan is here to show off what can really be done with a chickpea when some care goes into it. The same with an aubergine in their baba ganouj- smokey and easily scoop-able with their flatbreads. We’d not had a lamb kibbeh before, but could liken it to a meaty version of a falafel. It was super crisp and, though perhaps not the ‘done’ thing, we were dunking these, and the fatayers (filled mini pastries) in to the baba ganouj. We could go on and on about the rest of the dishes we had… the crispy bits of bread in the fattoush, the spicy sauces that came with the mixed grill plate, the mind-blowing flavour of the chicken shawarma… but we are at risk of reentering the throws of our food coma just thinking about it.

Anyway. We think you get the drift. Argan is bursting with personality and flavour. In a world where human-to-human contact seems to be ever on the decline, the hospitality here, like the mint tea, is extremely refreshing.


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