Review: Eastern Charm – order authentic at the new restaurant that went viral

Posted on - 29th June, 2024 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Food & Drink, Preston City Centre, Preston News, Restaurants in Preston, Reviews
Eastern Charm on Guildhall Street, Preston

After seeing videos of the opening night celebrations and food on social media, I was ever so slightly excited about my visit to the acclaimed viral Eastern Charm on Guildhall Street. I met my friend Sarah at the doorway where the pretty lighting immediately caught my eye, and we headed down into the basement of the stunning former Five’s building to be greeted by further lighting and charming interior.

We were guided to our table through a very quiet restaurant and given some menus. The abundance of empty tables dampened the atmosphere somewhat.

We visited before the heatwave, a few days later and we would’ve been glad of the coolness of the basement. However we were both freezing, and I wish I’d taken a cardi. We were offered a different seat but we’d already moved from a booth due to the table being too far away from the benches so we stayed put and hoped the food would warm us up.

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It was time to order some drinks and we had to ask if they had some obvious choices such as Diet Coke for Sarah, which wasn’t included on the menu. I opted for a fresh orange juice which came freshly squeezed. The restaurant is alcohol free and the listed ‘cocktails’ with flavours such as Oreo and Malteser seem to be milkshake style drinks.

The menu was quite extensive so in came my indecision and a few questions were directed towards the waiter. In reply we were told the mixed grill was a popular choice, but I was keen to know more about the authentic Middle Eastern dishes. The waiter recommended the Lamb Mandi but persisted with his initial endorsement of the Mixed Grill and suggested the Lamb Mandi for next time. But would there be a next time? I chose the Mixed Grill (£14.99) with Fried Kibbeh (£6.99). After asking what the Special Sauce was with an answer of “it’s Special Sauce, I don’t know” but assuring that it wasn’t going to make her cry, Sarah chose the Shish Taouk (£10.99) and Hummus with Shawarma (£8.99) to start. Bread was free with the meals and although we chose rice as a side, we were given some free chips.

The Hummus with Shawarma was excellent, and I think I’d order something more like this next time. And yes, the chicken was cooked. I didn’t know what to expect with the Fried Kibbeh, but they resembled scotch eggs with mincemeat around the edge but instead of egg there was a filling of bulgar wheat, walnuts and onion. They were tasty but eating all four of them would’ve spoilt my appetite for the main course.

The mains arrived whilst we were eating the starters, I assume that’s just how they do it as they didn’t check when we wanted them to arrive. If you want them separate, you’ll need to request it. Sarah said there wasn’t much to the special sauce on her chicken kebabs and despite not wanting it hot enough to make her cry, said it could’ve done with a kick. Unfortunately, not very special. The chicken on my mixed grill was perfectly cooked, juicy and tender. The free chips seemed to have a meaty taste, perhaps cooked in meat juices. All in all, it was a very nice mixed grill, but I couldn’t help thinking I wish I’d tried a more Middle Eastern dish. I did feel like I’d eaten a takeaway in a restaurant. Talking of takeaway, you are now able to order Eastern Charm to take out and delivery should also be available. It would certainly have been warmer eating it at home, that’s for sure. We were still cold.

Getting full and wanting to try the fresh dessert I’d spotted on the way in, we thought we’d ask for a doggy bag, but the waiter was nowhere to be seen with a couple staff members lingering around the counter. Despite it being obvious we needed some service, nobody came over. We hadn’t been checked on throughout our meal either and were therefore not offered any more drinks or desserts, so we decided to go elsewhere. Sarah got up and requested the bill and some takeaway boxes which were brought over by a friendly lady who finally checked if the food had been ok.

Freshly Baked Desserts at Eastern Charm

After a cold walk to the toilets which looked like they hadn’t changed since it was the cocktail factory (and the hand dryer wasn’t working), we packed our takeaway boxes and went over to the counter to pay. At a total of £49.94, we thought this was quite reasonable but there was definitely not going to be a tip for the service. It was also at this point I noticed the price of my orange juice which at £4.99 was higher than expected.

There was a young boy working behind the counter and Sarah, who likes to be quite personal at times, asked if it was the woman’s son to be told it was her younger brother. The father, who was also there said it was a family business and they were his children. He offered us some free baklava type dessert bites which were lovely and sweet. The friendliness slightly saved the evening somewhat, but the attentiveness needs to be improved during the meal and unfortunately, the lack of customers meant a lack of atmosphere.

As we went back upstairs, our waiter appeared on the left which we thought was strange. Where was he when we needed him the most? Anyway, dessert was calling.

Have you had better service at Eastern Charm? Should I give it another chance? Comment below.

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