Zenobia Lebanese Restaurant, Leichhardt

Zenobia on UrbanspoonZenobia is a Lebanese restaurant set in a lovely sandstone house on Norton St. The other night my dad, brother and I popped in on the spur of the moment and happily found a table free for us.

We shared a lovely bottle of Henry Fessy Beaujolais-Villages 2009 which went quite well with the salty, spicy meal – $15.99 at Vintage Cellars – bargain!

The tabouli was good – fresh and lemony, but lacking any burghul which surprised us (low-carb tabouli, yeah!).

The subsequent dishes were significantly more delicious. The haloumi ($16) was generous, beautifully presented and perfectly cooked. The ripe tomatoes were a lovely contrast to the squeaky, salty cheese.

Next came the vegetarian platter. At just $18 we didn’t expect it to be so enormous! It was piled with golden fried cauliflower, crispy spiced potatoes and pieces of smooth, skinned eggplant, accompanied by cacik and a light tahini sauce.

The sujouk ($15) was served in a simple tomato and onion sauce, which balanced the intensity of the soft, spicy sausage. Is nice! I like!

The mains did not disappoint either. The chicken mansaf ($22) was a huge dish consisting of delicately fragrant rice topped with pine nuts and moist, spiced chicken. The tahini sauce on the side was a nice thought but quite unnecessary, as the dish was flavoursome enough and certainly not dry. 

At $24 my choice of lamb shawarma was the priciest dish. (I don’t understand why Urbanspoon lists it as $25-$35 per main.) Even though I didn’t partake of the chips or Lebanese bread, the lamb was gorgeous on its own, slightly charred on the edges, heavy on the spices but sliced ultra thin. I really appreciated the tomato ketchup served alongside the tahini-yoghurt sauce – a match made in heaven!

Hardcore coffee and diabetes-inducing pastries are always required to round off a proper middle eastern feast. Luckily we had enough space to fit some in, just for the sake of tradition of course.

The service was erratic but friendly, the belly-dancer not my cup of tea, but the food and general atmosphere were more than enough to convince me to return with Mr Black one day soon. I suspect the banquet (at $45pp) is huge and excellent value for money too.

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