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It was one of those days when everything that is was meant to be, as the restaurant we were looking for was closed on a Sunday. I can't live on cake and coffee alone ... well, I possibly could, but I know I need vegetables in between and to be honest, I love savoury food so much more.
We found Jean Claude's Restaurant which looked like a 'pizza joint', but was so much more. Intending to just take a quick look at the menu, the chef raced out and assured us he could make anything we wanted. 'Anything', he emphatically said.
I had seen a great array of food styles written above the premises and Lebanese had caught my eye, so I asked for a plate of dips and maybe some falafel.
When the very large and beautifully presented 'snacks for two' platter came to the table, I realised there was something very special about this food. I asked if we could speak with the chef again and he came and joined us. Antonio is one of those people I want you to meet for yourself. I won't spoil all the magic of his journey, but will tempt you with this small prompt: you may just remember him from the wonderful beginnings of an Australian TV drama.
Let Antonio know what you enjoy as he is so keen to please.
Antonio is of Italian and Lebanese decent, it is a family business and it is named after his son. As I'm hearing of stories as varied as the offerings on our plates, we were swept away with the flavours of the salad, the hummus, the very light Lebanese breads and the falafel.
Every dish was home made and organic. This was easily verified. The taste and texture made me want to sing. Antonio's description of the food and the love that goes into selecting ingredients that bring good health was akin to experiencing the most moving opera. I cannot wait to go back for dinner soon as his excitement over arranging the largest of vegetarian platters was captivating. Along with our foods also came vine leaves, stuffed capsicum and a number of other dishes I have yet to be able to pronounce, but I'll certainly be able to remember. Lunch was memorable as I finished the last of my falafel which was created from a 2000 year old Phoenician recipe. I don't eat meat but was even absorbed in Antonio's description of his ability to demand the best meats and told me how you can know the quality of the piece.
Don't leave without dessert. It is hand made on the premises.
I overhead the word 'baklava' and decided against moving on to a cafe for coffee and cake. Everything was available at Jean Claude's and I ordered semolina walnut cake and baklava with fresh coffee. The baklava came straight from the kitchen in a baking tray and contained more healthy ingredients in one dessert than I imagined. Antonio insisted on us knowing exactly what was in there and once again, how everything was made with quality, organic whole ingredients. There is no mistaking the taste of home cooking.