July 26, 2010

Safi

Tucked away in an unassuming residential street of North Sydney lives a sweet little Lebanese restaurant, Safi. It was first recommended to us by some friends who raved on about how good the place was, so on Friday night we finally took up their offer to have dinner there together.


Upon arrival, it looked like it was a small 5 x 5m one room restaurant. We could see the warmly lit restaurant through its big front window buzzing with happy patrons. The window sill was adorned with cute little decorations imported from Lebanon, not tacky but very chic. Walking into the place, we were unexpectedly ushered through to the back room, which I found was very cosy and nice because it wasn't as loud or crowded as the main room.

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Being late as usual, the gang was already there…after kisses and hugs we finally had a look at the menu and unanimously all settled on the Banquet @ $35 pp.

The banquet started with a selection of dips and bread accompanied with Tabouli & pickles. These included the typical Hommus and Babaganoush with an extra third dip, Labneh. The hommus was very light and creamy with a slight nutty flavour from the chickpeas. The babaganoush was packed with flavour and had alot of depth. Labneh is a yoghurt based dip with mint and a pinch of paprika, it was very refreshing and complemented the others very well. It was a perfect way to start any meal, I say.


L: Hommus; R: Babaganoush

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L: Labneh; R: Tabouli

Next, some vegetarian dishes were presented. The first dish was Falafel, a combination of chickpea & broadbeans shaped into a ball and deep fried. I found these were quite bland compared to others that I have tasted. The shell was extremely crunchy, several times when I tried to cut it into smaller pieces, a piece would go flying across the room. The filling however was very light and fluffy and went very well with the Tahini sauce.

L: Falafel; R: Lightly Fried Cauliflower both served with Tahini sauce

At first I was quite cynical to the fried cauliflower. I thought it would be greasy, bland and just unpleasant. When I took a bite it blew my mind away, it was soft but not mushy and had very intense flavours I just wasn't expecting. I think the best way to describe it is, it tasted like delicious cauliflower chips without the crunch in a good way.

I was very curious as to what the Olive Pastry would be and didn't very much care for the Vine Leaf Rolls, as all the other vine leaf rolls I've had in the past were either very tangy or just too overpowering in the vine leaf flavour. So when this dish came out I went straight for the olive pastry. I was impressed with the flavour of the filling but was very disappointed with the pastry itself, it was tough, heavy and slightly chewy. I decided to try the Vine Leaf rolls anyways and boy am I glad I did. It totally changed the way I saw these little green packages. Instead of incorporating some of the vine leaf into the filling they used tomatoes instead which really lifted the dish. They were the best vine leaf rolls I've tasted by far.

L: Olive Pastry & Vine Leaf Rolls; R: Potato Kibbeh

The Potato Kibbeh were nice, they were sort of like a flattened version of a potato arancini, it had a soft fluffy centre with a crunchy outside. Albeit, the kibbeh itself was already quite flavoursome but by dipping it in the sweet chilli sauce a bit of a kick was added to the dish.

Although I am a true carnivore in every sense of the word, these vege dishes were sooo moorish and flavoursome that I was slightly dissappointed that we only got to have one piece each from each dish. On the upside, it left room for the meat dishes still to come.

L: Ma-aneh; R: Meat Kibbeh

The Lebanese style sausages weren't really to my taste. I thought they were quite ordinary and the cumin flavour was too overpowering. Beware of the Meat Kibbeh - balls of juicy minced meat & onions encased in a crunchy cracked wheat shell; these little babies are HOT (literally & figuratively speaking).

Talking about saving the best for last, the chicken skewers were my favourite dish of the day, the chicken was moist and cooked to perfection, together with the garlic sauce you have yourself a "Bonnie & Clyde" combo.

L: Shish Taouk with garlic sauce; R: Kafta Kebab with Tomato relish


Fattoush

A salad was also brought out with the chicken and the kafta, it was nice to have a bit of "green" to complement the meat dishes but this salad was wayyyyy too acidic, all I could taste was lemon/lime juice.

Full to the brim, the meal ended nicely with Chai & Ahweh (also known as Chai Tea & Arabic Coffee) along with some something sweet, Turkish Delight & Baklava.


Baklava & Turkish Delight


Chai & Ahweh

It might not seem like it from the outside but Safi is a modern and stylish restaurant (even the cheque came in its own cute little box with mini boxes of chiclets (gum) inside). Its relaxed atmosphere, friendly staff and great value for money made Safi an awesome choice for a couple of mates to catch up over dinner ♥

p.s. It's BYO too... so if your a wine lover like me, score!




Safi Dining
55 Ridge Street
North Sydney, NSW
Ph: 9954 6146

NB: Bookings are essential & due to residental zone restrictions the restaurant closes at 10 pm.

7 comments:

  1. ooh now i want fried cauliflower! and baklava!

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  2. I have to try this out since it's so near by! Thanks for the tip!

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  3. Hrmm.. fried cauliflower, I'm curious! There are some beautiful looking dishes there, and it seems like there was lots of attention to detail by the restaurant :)

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  4. Stumbled across your blog. Lovely pictures, very dainty indeed. Thanks for sharing, I'll keep this one in mind! :)

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  5. Lovely place. All dishes are mouth-watering.

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  6. wow this place looks so cute and nice.

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  7. thanks for sharing these interesting beautiful pics !=D

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