Thursday, 27 March 2014

Three Ways

Sometimes you eat out because you want excellent food; sometimes you do it to mark (or make) an occasion. On Tuesday, Abby and I ate out with the explicit intention of chilling out, maxing, and relaxing all cool.

Our first choice, the veggie cafe Wild Thyme, née Pulse, was closed, so we consulted The List. We ended up at the less veggie (phew) Three Ways, a family-run Lebanese restaurant hidden in plain sight in almost the exact geographical centre of Norwich (by which I mean, less than 100 yards from The Works.)

Do the Enduring Grub team know a lot about Lebanese food, you ask? 

Do we ever, we reply. But we say that as a way to dodge the question, really. We spent a few minutes trying to work out where Lebanon might appear on a map before giving up, claiming such activities to be guilty of  'cultural pigeonholing' and 'annoyingness.'

Apparently Lebanese food always comes on a bed of fresh, if slightly off-kilter, salad, and with a pre-starter of raw beans. Abby thought the beans a nice touch, while I could understand why they were served free, before you'd eaten anything else (the only conditions in which I would be likely to consume them). 

We shared a couple of starters. The spinach kibbeh were tasty and unfamiliar, while the battatta harra (spicy potatoes) were tasty and familiar in the extreme. I had the lahma mishwia for main, juicy lamb kebabs with rice and an over abundance of onion, but I was immediately jealous of Abby's pick from the specials menu; halloumi and falafel, with pickled chillies, houmous, and bright purple, salty-as-hell pickled turnips. 

I paid the price for my slightly unadventurous choices, coming away with an impression of generous portions of merely decent food; Abby feels this to be a slightly unfair conclusion. 

I was more won over by the restaurant itself than the food. Readers of the 'Grub will know it is high praise indeed when I say that if Three Ways were to appear as a set in a film, that film would be directed by Wes Anderson. And we had the lovely room to ourselves for the first half of the evening, except for the owner, who served us with great informality and friendliness. 

We were joined by other diners about half way through. Despite the fact that Amr Diab (according to the CD case left on the counter) was singing the same song over and over again for the whole evening, the restaurant was quiet enough that you could hear your fellow diners order a drink, say, or discuss the shish tawouk; and similarly, our neighbours could presumably hear us bicker over whether Lebanon was an island, steal each others food, and take sneaky photos for a blog of some description. 

And yes: perhaps they could hear one of us fart. And perhaps it was a much louder fart than that person had expected. Perhaps--perhaps--the fart may have echoed. 

Perhaps one person got silently told off for this, and only then realised that the other group of people had all stopped eating for some reason. Perhaps the farter found this funny, but really shouldn't have laughed. And--who knows?--perhaps the other person found that funny, and the whole thing escalated.

We'll never know.

But a restaurant that lets you feel so at home that you can give birth to a mighty wind, such as legends are made of? That restaurant has done its job of chilling you out, maxing you, and relaxing you--yes--all cool.

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