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Published December 21st 2011
Getting your hands stuck into a big plate of food and getting a little messy, makes for a very enjoyable and relaxed dining experience. No fancy cutlery or rules, just purely delicious, flavoursome, fresh and intriguing cuisine. That is what you get when you delve into a luscious Lebanese feast.
It was time to celebrate a 25th birthday and when I got the word that the birthday girl had chosen a Lebanese banquet, I was thrilled. So we headed off to what happened to be my parents' favourite place to eat back in the day when they were young ones. The glorious destination was Abdul's Restaurant in Surry Hills.
There is a take away area attached to the restaurant which is just your average looking take away, then there is the dining area next door which is fairly standard, but comfortable and welcoming. Up some stairs at the back of the restaurant there are 2 'Cushion Rooms', which provide you with a themed and more authentic dining experience. With low tables, colourful lounges and cushions, and lovely decorative cloth hangings from the ceiling to set the mood. The restaurant is also BYO with no corkage, which we were quite surprised by, but very happy about.
I was lucky enough to secure a Cushion Room for the blessed event and everyone was keen for that. When we arrived with our party of 10 and got taken to our room we were excited and then after sitting down, we were all very snug. For 10 people it was a little bit of a squish, but luckily we were all very good friends to begin with and after being that close, even better friends by the end of it, so it wasn't too much of a worry.
Abdul's is somewhat renowned for its "relaxed" service, some might even say they can completely forget what they're doing and you will be required to find them and give them a little reminder, which is actually what we ended up doing. We went into it knowing this so we weren't too put out. The thing that will make you forgive them for any of their shortcomings in the service department is the food.
We had the $25 banquet and let me tell you, it was absolutely divine. For the starters, a basket piled high with flat bread, dinner plate sized servings of Hummus and Baba Ghanoush, vine leaves, olives, giant plate of Tabouli, Falafels, bowls of very tasty rice and beans and lady fingers. That amount of food was extremely substantial and there was still plenty more to come. Next up came the mains of Shish Kebab, Garlic chicken kebabs and beef Kafta. As if that wasn't enough, we still had my favourite, dessert. Plates of Turkish Delight and Baclava arrived with coffee and tea optional.
My highlights were the Baba Ghanoush, which was perfectly smoky in flavour and silky smooth. The Lady Fingers with their lamb mince, pine nut and onion filling, wrapped in crisp and crunchy filo pastry, they really hit the spot. Last but not least, the Garlic Chicken Kebabs. They were so simple, yet had so much flavour from being char grilled and the subtle but vibrant garlicy goodness.
I can't forget to mention the gorgeous Belly Dancer who performed, lifting the festive spirit and entertaining to no end. She even balanced a large sword on her head and hip. We were lucky enough to be asked to get a crash course in the belly dancing with a girlfriend, my boyfriend and myself getting up and giving it a go. It made for a very interesting and enjoyable evening indeed.