Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Embers Mezze Bar | Darlinghurst

I watched my final film at the Sydney Film Festival last weekend with a friend on Saturday and decided to get some dinner afterwards. As we had watched a film set in Brazil, Casa Grande (which I recommend by the way) we thought to end the night with some Brazilian food in Darlinghurst (Ovo CafĂ© apparently is well known amongst the Brazilian locals). However, when we got there it was closed (I’ll just have to review this one another time) and so we decided to try an establishment across the road instead. I absolutely love Lebanese food. It’s not only the generous portions, the heartiness, the meat and blend of spices, but also the hospitality of the people and families of the Middle Eastern culture generally. The people I got to know are very warm, welcoming and treat you as if you are a part of their family. I got a sense of the culture when I learned the Arabic language (reading and writing) and Lebanese dialect for about 12 months (MarHaba. Ki-fik lyo-m? – Hello, how are you today? (addressed to a female)). I learnt the Arabic alphabet by singing it (alef, be, te, the …etc) and once you know the alphabet like English, you can read and write it. If you want an insight into their culture, a book you will enjoy reading is Tea with Arwa, authored by Arwa El Masri. Through telling her story, Arwa demystifies the veil and shows the importance of belonging, how everyone is looking for the same thing, safety, love, family, a home, and a good meal, regardless of faith. I loved it and must read it again sometime.

Beautiful Beirut architecture. Beirut is known as
the 'Paris of the Middle East'

My Arabic calligraphy handwriting at a workshop in Dubai
 
 
Candle light at Embers Mezze Bar in Darlinghurst,
soft and romantic

This establishment is best described as modern Middle Eastern: just think of all the Middle Eastern food you are familiar with but done and presented with a modern twist using traditional flavours of the Middle East.

For those interstate and not visiting Sydney anytime soon, you may wish to try combining some familiar ingredients mentioned below when cooking to see how it tastes.

Location and Ambience

Embers Mezze Bar is located in the grand Rococo style building on 52 Oxford Street, in the heart of the hustle bustle of Darlinghurst in Sydney. There is an inviting warmth when you step into the dimly lit, rustic establishment with a touch of Rococo style elegance.

Look around and you will notice two giant quirky paintings of a man and a woman. Both pictures show a man and woman smoking with a beer hose in traditional Middle Eastern outfits, in contemporary style.

 


Food 

We weren’t overly hungry but could eat. These are the 3 dishes we had and I would definitely have again.

#1 Haloumi with honey and za’atar crumbs ($13)

If your tastebuds were asleep then this will wake them up. The salty rubbery texture of haloumi combined with the sweetness of honey and za’atar, which essentially is a generic name in Arabic for a family of related Middle Eastern herbs including thyme, sesame, and oregano, were delicious. Why didn't I think of that combination before when grilling haloumi?


Haloumi with honey and za’atar crumbs

#2 Cauliflower chickpea and pomegranate salad ($16)


This is a vegetarian dish comprising of chargrilled cauliflower, chickpeas, pine nuts, parsley and pomegranate molasses (or syrup). The smoky flavour of the cauliflower and the sweet and sour pomegranate molasses were a good combination. An appetising dish that make you feel like you want more when you get to the end.


Cauliflower chickpea and pomegranate salad


#3 Scallop nayeh with chilli baba ganoush and crisby Lebanese bread ($19)

Nayeh is the Arabic word for raw (a signature Lebanese cuisine is kibbeh nayeh, which is essentially is raw meat mixed in a range of spices if you are game to try it). So essentially we were eating raw scallops with the baba ganoush spiced with chilli. I never thought about frying Lebanese bread. It was something different from the usual soft flat bread I'm use to and it went well with the scallop and baba ganoush.



 

Overall
 
The quality of the food and presentation were excellent and the flavours simply amazing. All dishes are meant to be shared which ensures you the flexibility to try a bit of everything. All dishes use traditional ideas with a modern twist. A very enjoyable and creative menu. I loved everything about the establishment.

 

A picture I took when I travelled the Middle East
 

Where? 52 Oxford St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010
Phone: (02) 8354 1100
Website: www.embersmezzebar.com.au

Embers Mezze Bar on Urbanspoon 






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