Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Byblos (World Trade Centre, Melbourne ) 02/2011

This dinner was courtesy of Byblos who are keen to become known to a wider audience..

Open for only a few weeks, and largely hidden from passers by, this waterfront Lebanese style restaurant was not what I expected. Facing the Yarra and the Jeff's shed
it is most accessible from Siddeley St. Three areas there offer after hours parking for $5, $9, or $10. My car could not tell the difference so I was quite happy to go cheap! A short walk through the WTC Wharf building
brings one to the waters edge, and the restaurant. It looks like an pleasant space with a bar facing a casual area which opens on to a broad path with more tables.
In fact it is a much bigger area than it first appears to be with a richly furnished private room
as well as a couple of other areas for casual conversation over a drink
and upstairs there is a bar with more tables all of which have attractive mosaics set in them, reminiscent of ancient decor.
.There are other reminders of Byblos, regarded by many as the oldest continually occupied city in the world such as the reproduction pottery shards
Papyrus, on which the early bible was written, was traded in Byblos which is where the word bible comes from!
We tried quite a few dishes including:
Fattoush, a light mixed green salad with radish, tomato and cucumber finished with toasted Lebanese bread and bold lemon and garlic dressing ($11.90)
This sounded as if it would knock you over with it's 'bold' dressing but it was quite mild and not dominated by any individual ingredient.
Tabouleh, finely chopped parsley, tomato, onion, rich olive oil and a splash of lemon juice ($11.90) This was unusual as the primary ingredient, Burgul wheat was missing. Perhaps the menu writer forgot it but so, it seemed to me, did the chef.
A trio of dips, from the right, Labneh, a soft home made cheese blended with garlic and mint, Hommos, a blend of chickpeas, lemon juice and tahini and Baba Ghanouj, smoky char grilled egg plan troasted garlic, tahini and lemon juice. ($13.90)
contained no surprises. Every dish up to this point had a slightly lemony flavour but this was not excessive. They were all were well balanced.
Rekakat, filo pastries filled with soft feta and mozzarella cheese, freshly chopped onion and zesty herbs ($12.90 for four) again illustrated what I now regarded as the hall mark of Byblos that is gently seasoned mild tasting delicate cooking.
Batata Harra, hand cut potatoes sauteed in lemon, olive oil, chopped coriander and a hint of chili
fell into the same category of pleasant and inoffensive dishes.
Samak Harra, fresh John Dory with roasted red pepper ratatouille, pine nuts and lemon dressing, served cool ($14.50)
was another very pleasant mildly flavoured dish. Even the escargo sauteed with fresh coriander, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and chili barely roused my taste buds although the snails were plump, tender, but slightly chewy
and, as a stand alone dish, quite excellent. Another mild dish, Makanek, home made Lebanese spiced sausages sauteed with fresh lemon and finished with olive oil and pine nuts. ($14.50) is largely defined by textures.
Our last main course was skewers of chicken tenderloin, Shish Tawook, marinated in olive oil,
believe it or not, with garlic, coriander and lemon juice and Lahim Meshwi, marinated lamb in olive oil, traditional Lebanese herbs and spices.
We finished the meal with Lebanese coffee
served from an attractive finjan, by Meagan, our most attentive, and attractive, waitress.
and a platter of mixed middle Eastern sweets.
Everything was served with plenty of Lebanese breadThere is an extremely pleasant atmosphere about the place, open and unhurried.
Ihere are many combination dishes and platters on the menu for about $28 so that a good range of dishes can be tasted without exessive expence.
They also have a reasonable wine and cocktail list.
Score: 13.5/20


neil said...

Tabouleh without the burgul is just a parsley salad, though I've never thought of it as the primary ingredient, more a textural contrast. The food does look good, but needs an experienced guiding hand at the plate up, as a lot of it looks home cooked.

Nice to see you're back

Antoine said...

I was in Lebanon and visited few very good restaurants, none of them had Burghul in the Tabouleh.
I prefer it without Burghul.

Elliot and Sandra said...

It's nice to be back.
Tx Neil
Neil AND Antoine
Writing these reviews is an educational experience.
Looking at a few recipes I see that Tabouleh can be made with cous cous or with or with out wheat.
Last year I got a substantial response on Chowhound when I asked what is essentialen for a dish to be called Stroganoff. I'm beginning to wonder about Tabouleh.

John Salisbury said...

Welcome home Elliot and Sandra.

Appreciate all your great reviews of Canada and America.


Elliot and Sandra said...

Hi John,
It was a great trip and we enjoyed it enormously but it's nice to be back in Australia.

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Elliot and Sandra said...

Great to have your support!