Athlone is well served by restaurants: Kin Khao jostles with Dublin’s Koh for the title of Ireland’s best Thai restaurant, The Left Bank is a reliable favourite, and our own native Athlunatic Cat raves about Di Bella.
So when I joined Cat and Jimmy for a meal in Athlone’s new Lebanese restaurant, Al Mezza, we had high hopes. We arrived on a Saturday night and found the place relatively empty: not a great sign, but perhaps a sign of the times. Al Mezza’s not the cheapest place I’ve come across, and you’d certainly expect lower prices outside Dublin. Indeed, Keshk cafe in Dublin – the benchmark for good value middle Eastern food – puts Al Mezza to shame.
We started with hummus, a good place to put on your judgemental hat. This was fine, not spectacular (€6.30). I ordered a plate of falafel, which came with salad and some little pieces of pitta bread with what seemed little more than a fancy ketchup (€15.80). I know falafel can be a little dry but this was almost dusty, and suffered from a lack of sauce or hummus. I couldn’t help but compare them to the gorgeous falafel at Keshk (€12.95).
The farouj mousahab, a charcoal marinated half chicken off the bone served with garlic mayonnaise (€15.85) was quite disappointing. A dish such as this should be succulent and juicy, but the chicken was pretty dry and tasteless and the garlic mayonnaise only served to highlight this.
Although it wasn’t a bad meal – the service was great and the interior is lovely – I don’t think any of us would be going back again, especially at these prices.
Have you tried Al Mezza, or can you recommend any good spots in Athlone?
- Al Mezza, Athlone, Co. Westmeath. For reservations call 0906498765