As a frequent passenger in the car I knew exactly where this was but always thought it was African. As the driver of said car, Steve hadn't registered where this was; he takes eyes on the road very seriously. Anyway an impressive Urbanspoon score and a tempting Broadsheet review meant we called up to make sure there was room for us.
It's a light bright affair with a pretty Morrocan style light in the middle of the dining room .The outdoor courtyard also looks inviting and we are served by a really friendly waitress who manages to be warm but not over familiar and we enjoy being looked after by her.
Given our commitment to do nothing for the rest of the day I decide to start off with an espresso martini. Coffee is a morning drink right? And the waitress comments that it's a perfect drink any time of the day and I have to agree. This is a one good, traditional style espresso martini. I don't like the versions with tequila and other non purist spirits so this really hits my high notes and the fact it's presented in a coffee glass excuses the fact that it's barely midday!
Hummous bi Tahini - chick pea, tahini, garlic and lemon dip
Jibeen ma' Mrabba el Teen - house made fresh white cheese with fig jam
The warm flatbread is the right side of doughy and with the nutty hummous it really is a great pairing. The hummous has distinct notes of sesame, garlic and citrus and the there's a coarseness in the texture adding interest. It really puts the supermarket tubs to shame.
The fresh cheese looks a bit like mozzarella but there's no rubbery chewiness. It's fresh, light and milky and the sweet and slightly spiced fig jam with it is really quite divine. Hot bread, cold cheese, sweet fig is a delight.
We also have the raw lamb kibbeh which is like a steak tartare but rather than the French flavourings of capers and cornichons it's blended with Middle Eastern spice. The crunchy flatbread is nice enough but I prefer the warmth and softness of the bread that came with the dips.
This is a great opener to our Lebanese feast and are appetites are whetted and we are ready for more brilliance to come!
Lahem Meshwi- spiced lamb backstrap and onion
Djej Meshwi bi Toum - garlic chicken glazed with pomegranate molasses
The lamb comes with a red capsicum yoghurt and the chicken has a puddle of garlicky labna.
The lamb is beautifully cooked, Charred on the outside and rare on the inside. The meat is lean and juicy and I love the fact it's good meat and not fatty, gristly stuff as can often be the case.
The chicken has been well marinaded and the garlic and tangy pomegranate are great flavoursn
We are as stuffed as the spatchcock but the lure of baklava and homemade chocolate and almond ice cream is too much to resist. After all we will be walking home so why not?! Steve prefers the baklava with more sugar syrup so it's stickier and wetter but minor thing really. The ice cream is lovely but entirely unnecessary.
We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Lebanon and are really excited to have this lovely gem of a restaurant in our 'hood. It would have been nice to see some Lebanese wine on the wine list I think but really that's just a minor tickle of a grip!