As you enter this cavernous restaurant you pass the long empty verandah out front and wonder if that gets much of a workout in winter. The answer to that was obvious when we left a few hours later. Small throngs of Shisha enthusiasts had braved the cold night air to chill, chat and smoke pipes.
My small group of friends and I were previously Little Lebanon virgins. Considering
a )how damn good the food was
b) how cheap our evening out was and
c) its proximity to home;
I wondered how that was possible.
My friends like to share. None of this individual dish business. Fortunately Little Lebanon is the perfect venue for sharing. They offer a banquet for only $40 each, and we quickly earmarked that for our next visit. On our premier visit however, we decided to play it safe and choose a range of smallish share plates.
Our two friendly wait staff (with one young lad in training) established that we were happy for our plates to arrive fairly close together. Our initial wait was about 30 minutes which can be dangerous when you have four hungry women with empty stomachs and several bottles of vino. Our first few plates were thus received with gusto. The felafel with yoghurt sauce and pickles on the side was devoured in no time, along with complimentary pita bread, and another type of unidentifiable fried bread that none of us had tried before. We preferred the pitas.
These heavenly little pastries were vegetarian sambousiks, filled with spinach and cheese ($12). As a veggie lover, I’m constantly delighted by the range of food available in Lebanese and Indian restaurants featuring a variety of creative and delicious vegetable dishes.
The Lebanese were roasting and frying cauliflower long before it became trendy. This version of fried cauliflower was served with tahini sauce ($12) and was crunchy, creamy and beautifully caramelised.
Our only non-entree dish was the chicken shawarma ($20). This meal of marinated shredded chicken served with garlic sauce was everyone’s favourite. With a mix of spices, the zing of fresh herbs and slices of crunchy red cabbage, cucumber and onion, it was simply scrumptious wrapped in the extra pita bread served with it. I can’t imagine coming back here and not ordering this dish. Yum.
Fried eggplant with yoghurt ($12) was our obligatory eggplant dish. It’s an unwritten rule that when ordering plates of Lebanese food , you must include eggplant. And felafel of course. This version featured strips of fried eggplant lightly dusted in mild spices, and fried till golden. You can see this dish in the photo below, on the right.
What Little Lebanon lacks in atmosphere it makes up for in food. There were so many other tempting options on the menu, but we sadly didn’t have the capacity to try more. We waddled out, stuffed to the gills and with barely a dent in our purses. This place is family friendly, super cheap – our meal was less than $20 a head – and BYOB with no corkage charge. What are you waiting for?