Laura, 20 March 2000

We went to Al Shami on Saturday night, not much to add to your comments (below) really. The best thing was there was no fuss about eating vegan - they just brought us (two of us) a load of starters. We had a bottle of lebanese wine for £15, which was a bit like a very smooth sherry. We had lebanese coffee, flavoured with cardomon, which was lovely. The total bill came to £36, which wasn't too bad considering the amount and quality of the food and drinks.The service was great, all in all I'd recommend it. It's probably a good place to go with a mixed group of vegans, veggies and meat eaters.

Kake, 19 April 1999

I remember going here, many years ago, before I was a vegan, and not being particularly impressed. Perhaps this was because we ordered badly; or maybe it's just that the best Lebanese food is vegan. Whatever; I went here with the Oxford Vegetarians Dining-Out Club and was amazed by how wonderful the food was. There were 8 of us, 5 of whom wanted to eat vegan, and we basically just left it all up to the chefs; this was an excellent decision.

We had little dishes of stuffed vine leaves, hummous, smoky aubergine dip, lemony spinach pastries, chargrilled vegetables in sesame sauce, falafel (chickpea patties), the best broad beans I've ever tasted, okra in tomato sauce, rice with fried vermicelli noodles, ground nuts with chilli, fried spiced potatoes, tabbouleh (bulgur wheat salad with so many fresh herbs it looks green), and possibly even other things I can't remember. It was served with plenty of pitta bread, and there was just slightly more than we could eat.

This place isn't cheap; the set menu came to £15 each, and the Lebanese wine (which is apparently always vegan, as it's made by traditional slower methods requiring no additives for clearing; though this is on the `to-investigate' list) is £10 per bottle. Definitely worth it for a treat, though. I think it would also be an excellent place to show omnivores that vegan food can be tasty and exciting.

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