REVIEW: Ali Baba, Olive Street, Sunderland

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Rumoured to sell the best kebabs in the city, Ali Baba has been given a make-over since I last visited.

A fresh look outside and inside, but the no-frills dining style remains the same.

More like a cafe, although it’s open until 11pm, the decor is still basic.

The complimentary bowl of lamb soup before you order is now chickpea, and there have been some changes to the menu.

Still short and heavy on the meat, there’s now a choice of daily specials, alongside the much-feted kebabs and wraps.

I enjoyed a lamb dish last time I ate there, but I was out of luck, as it had run out, despite it being only 5.30pm.

Instead my boyfriend and I both went for a mixed kebab – succulent pieces of seasoned lamb kofta and chicken.

Our meals came with a basket of fresh, fluffy naan bread and little pots of home-made chilli and garlic sauce.

Each kebab was also accompanied by a huge pile of rice and some salad.

Ali Baba’s compact size means you can see your meal being prepared in the open-fronted kitchen.

The chef seemed genuinely interested in what we thought about our meal, which we praised as fresh and filling.

A hit with international students, it’s the kind of place you could easily walk past.

But the food is good, simple and good value, with nothing priced more than £10.

With a soft drink each, our tea-time feast came to less than £20.

I don’t eat enough kebabs to know whether mythical thief Ali Baba has stolen the city crown.

But I can recommend a taste test before you decided whether the stories are true.

Jane O’Neill