You’ve probably heard us moon and swoon over Jasmins in Lakemba about a bazillion times, but there’s a new contender who may just steal the spotlight. Al Aseel, who have branches all over Sydney (Lakemba, Greenacre, Surry Hills) have recently opened in Newtown. That’s good news for povvo students, vegetarians, big groups and pre-gig diners alike. Let’s hear it for reasonably priced and delicious Lebanese food.
Excitingly, Al Aseel open for breakfast on weekends. Pity the foul – you can only order it during the day. Here, fava beans and chickpeas are slow-cooked in lemon and garlic, doused in olive oil. And maybe go for a dose of shakshuka (spiced baked eggs with tomato). We love the chickpeas and yoghurt covering a layer of fried flatbread and melted butter.
It’s also one of the few restaurants where there’s something to eat before you even sit down – flatbread and mixed pickles adorn every table just waiting for smoky baba ghanoush and hummus – both served here with a deep well of sweet olive oil.
It’s a fancy-looking establishment, just off Missenden Road with a big bar off to the side that even has Trumer Pils on tap and house-made lemonade if you’re abstaining. Floating top and bowler hat lamps dangle from the ceiling throwing a golden glow over the room, and Lebanese pop music blasts in the background.
They’re masters of the fryer here. Order the cinnamon-heavy kibbeh – deep-fried pucks of lamb mince – and crunchy, creamy falafels with tahini (which, BTW, they do at brekkie for an extra $1.50 a piece. Yeah!). If you’re time/cash poor, you could do worse than order one of the mixed plates where you get skewers, dips and tabouli on the same dish. Otherwise, try a few of the grill options like lamb, chicken thigh and kofta, all served with garlic sauce.
Al Aseel also feature quite the fancy dessert menu, including a surprisingly good roast pistachio ice cream with candied pistachios and honeyed figs. There’s also chocolate torte with custard sauce we have our eye on.
An all round win, we’d say.