“ Address: 10 Burnley Interchange Centenary Way / Burnley / Lancashire / England „
If for some strange reason you find yourself stranded in Burnley, I can wholly recommend the Eden Tree for a meal. It is located on the edge of the town centre, near to the bus station. During the evening, you can be cheeky and park on the Kierby Hotel's carpark for free or there are a handful of parking spaces available on nearby streets.
From the outside, this restaurant is nothing special to look at. It has been opened in the building that formerly housed the Litten Tree pub and there have been no changes to the décor that I have noticed. That said, the combination of booths and leather armchairs and sofas makes for a relaxed dining experience.
Unfortunately, many of Burnley's residents have yet to catch on to the excellent food and remarkably cheap prices available at the Eden Tree, so you're unlikely to need to book in advance. But don't let the lack of customers put you off. The menu is displayed prominently outside the restaurant so if you're unsure what to expect when it comes to Lebanese food, it gives you the perfect opportunity to make your mind up.
Once seated, you will be presented with a selection of crudités whilst you peruse the menu. These are complimentary of course and help to stave the hunger pangs, giving you an opportunity to fully examine the extensive menu. The Eden Tree offers an almost overwhelming selection of starters including a variety of homous dishes, falafel, halloumi and mint toasted in pita bread (my favourite!) and many more. Of course many of these dishes bear exotic Lebanese names but they also include mouthwatering descriptions so you know what to expect. Starters are typically £2.20 each and I'd recommend ordering a selection to share if eating as part of a group.
The main courses are predominantly various types of meat and fish, cooked with different marinades and spices. All of the main courses are served with rice and salad or chips for the less adventurous. I have visited on a number of occasions and have yet to be disappointed with the food but the mixed grill is a good choice if you'd like to sample a variety of the main courses in one sitting. There are some vegetarian dishes though I have to admit to not having tried these.
The service is excellent and the waiting staff are patient and understanding, especially when it comes to my appalling pronunciation of Lebanese dishes. Don't be shy to point at the menu though. It's a very relaxed atmosphere and no one will think any less of you for it! When the starters arrive, they are accompanied by a basket of flat breads. I'm not sure what these are actually called but they're a cross between a pita bread and a chapatti. Service is never rushed and you're given plenty of time to eat your starters before the main courses arrive.
The main courses are always presented beautifully. The salad that comes with them is very simplistic but it works well with the meats (or fish) and rice. The rice is fantastic and I'm not a lover of rice. It has a very subtle flavour of herbs and spices and perhaps even coconut which is something I can't usually abide! If you've never eaten Lebanese, it's hard to explain the flavours. The dishes I have sampled so far have always come chargrilled and although there are spices to add flavour, it is very subtle and quite mild. Generally, the food isn't hot like a curry would be. That said, my friend recently ordered cod in a sesame and chilli sauce and it had quite a kick to it! But the menu did imply it would so you shouldn't have any nasty surprises if you prefer milder food.
After eating, there's more complimentary food to come, this time in the form of a platter of fresh fruit. The Eden Tree doesn't seem to sell desserts but on each visit, I have always received a plate with freshly prepared pineapple, melon, apples, strawberries, grapes etc.
As for the dining experience, I really can't find fault with this restaurant. It is clean, comfortable and relaxed. The staff are always friendly and attentive and if you visit on a Friday night, there is the added entertainment of a very attractive belly dancer. You can even smoke fruit flavoured tobacco outside from a hookah but this costs £5 so I prefer to stick to my usual nicotine fix. Incidentally, for any smokers who might be reading, there are tables and comfortable chairs outside which are undercover so no getting wet whilst you sneak out for a crafty cig!
Perhaps my only disappointment was when I discovered that the sultry Eastern belly dancer in fact hails from Accrington. Also the chef, who regularly pops out to the front of house, is from Oldham but he assures me he received his training from the Lebanese owner who can often be spied in the corner. The Manager is Lebanese also which helps to authenticate your Lebanese dining experience.
So now I've managed to whet your appetites, you're probably wondering how much this will set you back? Well, the last time I visited as part of a group of six. We shared a bottle of wine (Cava), various soft drinks and quite a few alcoholic drinks. We all enjoyed a starter and main course each as well as the complimentary crudités, flat bread and fruit platters. And the bill came to? Just short of £60, though of course we added a little extra for the tip! At that price, who can resist?