I went to Byblos Bar and Restaurant at Portside Hamilton the other weekend with my family. Since my parents have just got back from Asia, I thought I'd take them to Byblos for something different - Mediterranean cuisine. Having been there with my husband two weeks before that, I had a rough idea of the dishes they served, or what some of them looked like anyway. The menu had no pictures, so ordering was difficult, especially for first timers. Everyone at the table picked up the menu, literally put it down a minute later and decided that I would do the ordering. Don't get me wrong, descriptions of menu items were great, but it would be hard to imagine what they looked or tasted like.
I guess you could call this restaurant tapas style – you order a few dishes to share, unless you're able to eat a whole bowl of something like Lebanese spiced sausages (not recommended). They also offer a Mezza banquet which is a multi-course feast allowing you to experience the various dishes on offer. As most people at the table wanted to try a bit of everything, we went for 3 Mezza Banquets. Yes, three banquets for 5 adults and 1 child, and we all felt like blue whales afterwards (without the blowholes).
As there were so many dishes in the banquet, I will just list my favourite items:
1. Rekakat - filo pastries filled with feta and mozzarella cheese, chopped onion, and fresh herbs 2. Shish Tawook - chicken breast marinated in olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and mild chilli 3. Lahim Meshwi - pieces of tender lamb marinated in olive oil and traditional Lebanese herbs and spices 4. Batata Harra - hand cut potatoes sautéed in lemon juice, olive oil, fresh coriander, garlic, and a hint of chilli
5. Tabouleh Salad - finely chopped parsley, tomatoes, onion, olive oil and a splash of lemon juice
Now, the drinks. I wish they offered a cocktail banquet because everything looked so delicious! As well, they have a kaleidoscope of beers on tap, local and imported beers, spirits, Whites, Reds - you name it. Great place for after work drinks, afternoon catch ups or even a party.
The only thing that bummed me out a bit was their service. From about 8.30pm our table ceased to exist in the restaurant. We had to ask multiple times for someone to come and clear our table and also for our teas and desserts (included in our banquets). They didn't seem very attentive at all. Then, to top it all off, they overcharged us. I thought their service was inconsistent throughout the night.
Overall, I loved the food, though I would not order the banquet again. They had great flavours, fresh ingredients, and every dish had their own distinct taste. It is definitely a must-try. If you are an adventurous eater, pick random things to try, if not, ask the staff at Byblos for help. It certainly is a great place to go if you are wanting to try something different. There are plenty of indoor and outdoor seating areas to choose from and get comfy in. It also has great atmosphere and I can see myself spend a couple of hours there sampling their cocktails next time.
P.S - I tried to make Batata Harra at home - it did not taste the same at all.