Restaurant review: Sami’s Restaurant, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton

Sami's Restaurant, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds.
Sami's Restaurant, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds.
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There’s something about Sami’s.

The Chapel Allerton eatery has a mixed reputation as everything from a great value taste of the Middle East to a greasy spoon hangover cure.

Its tired wood-panelled exterior doesn’t do much to the dispel the suggestions that the most you can expect there is a sausage and egg sandwich either but there is more to Sami’s than meets the eye.

Popping in on a Sunday evening, we were met with a Moroccan-themed space dotted with intricately patterned wallpaper, elaborate lantern light fittings and wooden screens.

With informal cushioned bench seating by the window and simple tables and chairs filling the restaurant, there is a comfortable understanding between diners and the staff but the lines are somewhat blurred between relaxed restaurant and takeaway.

Sami’s is listed on the JustEat takeout website, the restaurant is only licensed to sell soft drinks so those wanting alcohol have to bring it in themselves and the staffed till at the rear is used as much to process diners’ payments as it is to deliver orders to people collecting takeaways.

Either way, the restaurant is a very informal dining space, which offers Middle Eastern dishes at great prices.

Sami’s is often teaming with young professionals and the odd group of students, and it’s not hard to see why. There is a regular four courses for £12 offer on here, which centres around 16 or so dishes.

The wider menu is Moroccan with staples such as houmous, kebabs, cous cous and tagine, while soft drinks are priced around £1.50 per can. We opted for the four courses, which entitles you to a starter, main, side and dessert.

I chose the falafel to start, which was served with slices of pitta bread, houmous, salad and mint yoghurt sauce, while my dining partner was given a hearty plate of houmous. Both dishes were pretty generously sized, with the slightly crunchy fried falafel spiced delicately and combining perfectly with the salad and yoghurt. The plate of houmous, which was served with warm pitta was a creamy, filling delight.

We followed those with a honey and apricot lamb tagine and a tuna steak with thin chermoula sauce. The lamb was tender and thankfully wasn’t burdened with fat, while the marinade gave it a lovely spiced sweet taste. The tuna was thick and flaky with the chermoula, which is often referred to as North African pesto, proving quite dominant although my dining partner cleared his plate. We enjoyed the mains with a portion of rice and one of chips, which were much-needed given that both mains were sauce-heavy.

Dessert-wise I chose sweet pancakes with honey, vanilla ice cream and bananas, while my dining partner opted for a slice of lemon cheesecake, which was nice and thick but didn’t go all too well with the ice cream. The dishes came thick and fast, and we paid £27 for food and two soft drinks.

Sami’s may not look the part from outside, and it may have takeaway tendencies but if you’re after a well-delivered taste of the Middle East in no nonsense informality, you can’t go far wrong.

PIC: Bruce Rollinson

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