SO here we are in the slightly tricky position of writing a column about an activity that we can’t indulge in further for at least a month.

This expedition took place last Wednesday. Thanks to the weekend’s developments you will not be able to judge for yourselves the veracity of what follows – at least for the time being.

That’s certainly the case for the full eating out experience. However this restaurant has a busy takeaway operation so that will be an option.

Let’s hope you can enjoy the full restaurant experience at Lebaneat in Yarm before Christmas because we think it’s worth a visit.

In the middle of the High Street near the town hall, Lebaneat doesn’t look much from the outside.

But it’s very different once you pass over the threshold. Now I can’t say whether this is what a typical Lebanese restaurant looks like – there not being many others in this part of the world – but it is a warm and welcoming environment which – a few wall murals aside – feels pretty authentic given it has been created in premises which used to house a modern bank branch.

The not-too obtrusive background music adds to the Middle Eastern ambience – except when it is interrupted by "commercial breaks". I don’t know what advertising revenue the imposition of this on its customers nets for the restaurateurs who agree to run them but I somehow doubt it is worth it. I couldn’t hear what product or service was being flogged.

The Covid precautions are, however, spot on. On entering, customers cannot pass further without taking advantage of the hand sanitiser and scanning the QR code for the NHS track and trace app.

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And the masked-up staff certainly keep their distance. Our waiter was so far away when he took the order, our shouted requirements were probably heard in Egglescliffe.

Anyone with a passing knowledge of Turkish and Persian cuisine will find Lebaneat’s menu broadly familiar.

There’s a humungous mezze – or mixed platter – for £25 a head but we knew we would never manage the 15 or so dishes included.

But we like the "small plates" eating concept and opted to share a starter mixed platter – a comparatively-modest selection of eight tasters – which were served with almost paper-thin flatbread which was ideal for dipping in the hummus, the labneh (cream cheese with mint and cucumber), the baba ganoush (finely chopped grilled aubergine) and the garlic and tahini sauces.

There was also a very lemony and refreshing tabbouleh (parsley salad with tomato, onions and cracked wheat, some grilled halloumi, a crunchy falafel, warak inab (vine leaves stuffed with a tomato, rice and parsley mix) and batata harra (little roast potatoes cooked with peppers, garlic and coriander). Individually and collectively it was beautiful to look at and eat.

The charcoal grill looms large in the main course options. There’s a range of koftas – either chicken or lamb – but also some braised dishes.

There are plenty of vegetarian options among these, including the marvellously named Foul Moudamous which sounds like something chef might have produced after a particularly bad day in the kitchen but is in fact boiled broad beans cooked in tomato sauce with garlic, olive oil and lemon juice.

Sylvia opted for one of the other braised dishes – Lahem Bl’khodar (£15.95) – a huge potato, onion tomato and pepper stew with big chunks of very tender and aromatic lamb shoulder sat on top. Big flavours, big portion, she struggled to finish it.

Both Sylvia’s main and mine came with vermicelli rice as sides. Long grain rice cooked with vermicelli pasta somehow seemed to make it lighter.

My Kofta Meshwi was two large skewers of minced lamb served with a few grilled and pickled vegetables along with the rice. The lamb was flavoured with lots of herbs (coriander) a little spice (cumin) and onion and while tender it was also on the dry side. The tahini (sesame) sauce was vital to help it down.

We had some excellent baklava dessert – small cubes of filo pastry and ground nuts topped with pistachio and drenched in a honey syrup – and it was accompanied by some very welcome complimentary mint tea which was a nice touch. Our waiter said they went well together and he was right – the mintiness cutting through the sticky sweetness of the baklava.

The bill was just shy of £53 and that included a small glass of Lebanese house wine of which I can’t say I was a big fan and a small Peroni beer.

Having checked out the website before our arrival, which said a ten per cent discretionary service charge was added to all bills, we duly expected to find that sum added to ours.

It wasn’t and we tipped more than ten per cent – which may be a lesson for the increasing number of places which are opting for this not-so-subtle bit of arm-twisting. Eateries should have faith in their service and let their customers decide.

Descending from the soapbox, Lebaneat gets our vote and is worth the full immersive experience – when rules and regulations permit once more.


48 High Street, Yarm TS15 9AH

Tel: 01642-784500 Web:

Open: noon-11pm seven days a week (in normal times)

Ratings (out of ten): Food quality 8 Service 8 Surroundings 7 Value 7