This blog is long overdue a review of one of City Road’s many Middle Eastern restaurants.
In fact, a handful of new places have opened since my last write-up.
Lyalena is the latest arrival. A Lebanese restaurant, it occupies the the former site of Mezza House.
The restaurant has been nicely refurbished with a bright and modern feel whilst the menu is as you’d expect - a wide selection of mezze lead onto grilled meats and interesting specials like mansaf (fermented dried yoghurt with rice and meat) and kabseh (spiced rice with meat and a cucumber salad). There’s also a good range of freshly squeezed juices in lieu of booze.
Orange juice (£2.50) was exemplary. I saw a big handful of fruit taken from the fridge for its preparation. The Power (£3.50) was a smooth and creamy ginger-twanged shake made from banana, milk, honey and nuts.
Sujuk hallumi (£4.25) combined crisp and spicy pieces of Turkish sausage with well-crisped but slightly rubbery cheese. Accompanying side salad was a bit tired looking.
A pretty looking small mixed mezza (£7.25) was mostly very good.
Hummus was hyper-smooth; a pair of aubergine dips (creamy mutabal and mixed pepper studded baba ghanouj) were lovely but could have taken a bigger lick of smoke; and falafel were crisp with a soft interior. The only disappointment were the yalanjey (rice stuffed vine leaves) as the filling had compacted into a stodge.
Fresh bread was made in house. It was deliciously light with a slight chew.
A lyalena mixed grill (£9.95) was right on the money. The trio of kebabs had a good smoky note - super-tender spicy chicken shish, well-herbed lamb kafta (mint and parsley I think) and juicy lamb shish.
Chilli sauce had a lovely fiery sweetness and a mound of fluffy rice was beautifully buttery. But, some sad looking salad let the team down.
Nicely stuffed, four pieces of homemade semolina cake accompanied the bill. Crisp, slightly chewy and moist from a good soaking in sugar syrup, it was lovely stuff.
We had a very tasty meal at Lyalena. It's another solid addition to City Road's cornucopia of kebab restaurants.
Address - Lyalena, 175 City Road, Cardiff CF24 3JB
Telephone - 02920 491 215