I'm keen to share things that I've done with others - I love learning about culture and history, I know the importance of great service, good quality products and positive experiences. I love to experience life's opportunities. I live in Melbourne.
Published June 11th 2014
An exotic Lebanese delight for the eyes and the appetite
Kanzaman Lebanese is a long-standing exotic restaurant on Bridge Road in Richmond. Although this strip is brightly lit and can buzz with people, Kanzaman doesn't shout its presence here – in fact, it can appear dark and mysterious along the wide street. If you don't know it, the exterior is a double shop front, painted dark purple and the verandah is lit with a blue neon strip, distinctive but not high profile. To me, it deserves to shout lounder than it does.
When I enter, my first impression is space and warmth. It's not crowded and at first I don't spot the petite manageress at her bar, but she smiles warmly and welcomes me. She is beautiful, friendly and although she is informal, she is very respectful. We walk across the floorboards to my table in the bay window. Our seating is comfortable. The sun-bench has soft cushions and the chairs are designed for diner comfort.
Kanzaman's interior is deep turquoise and purple with Islamic art and ceramics spread nicely throughout. This ornate space is balanced nicely by simple table settings. You could easily expect to see people sitting around and playing cards here - it's that sort of welcoming place. Colourful murals and delightful eastern candelabra create an exotic atmosphere. Although the lighting is subdued, we can easily read the menu.
The entrée delights abound … there are the predictable falafel, hommos, halloumi, baba ghannouj, labneh and tabouleh – but also more interesting and delicious sounding Makanek (spicy lamb sausages), Jawaneh (chicken wings), Lahem Bi Ajeen (minced lamb filo) and vegetarian options of Sambousik (spicy feta filo), Mihshee Malfouf (cabbage rolls) Mihshee Selak (silverbeet rolls with rice/chickpeas) and Fotr (mushrooms). This is a good range and the pricing for each is around $10.00. For a group, sharing several of these with pita bread would be a delightful and economic option for a great evening.
The servers are lovely. Our manageress attends often to check on our drinks, offer help with the menu and make suggestions for our food. We decide to forego the shared entrée options and go straight to a main course each.
One of my companions is fascinated with the ingredients of one, so we order a Sultania (lamb eye fillets sautéed in pomegranate mollasses mustard seeds and herbs), another orders the Fatayer, pastry filled with spinach, onions, pine nuts and sumac, and I order the Kraidis Bi Toum (stir-fried prawns with herbs, garlic and lemon juice).
We don't have to wait long for anything to be served. Our drinks come quickly – we have beer, wine and soda water. Then our food is here.
Kraidis Bi Toum Prawns with shared pita and tabbouleh
The dishes are lovely - we are delighted. The Fatayer is probably the most uninspiring in its presentation, a pyramid of pastry rolls served on the dish, but the Sultania is nicely presented and the pomegranate molasses lives up to its fascination. The Kraidis Bi Toum Prawns are tender, properly cleaned but, although the "hero" of the dish, a little hidden in the presentation. The accompanying salad is good, a very nice blend of flavours and pomegranate seeds are a good addition for a crunchy texture. Our shared tabbouleh and pita is very nice indeed.
I would say one thing about our food though – it isn't all delivered at the same time, which is mystifying and disappointing. Our Sultania appeared first, then the Kraidis Bi Toum and Salads came, then finally the Fatayer pastries appeared – over about 10 minutes. To me, it is too long to spread delivery of our meal.
However, if I overlook this logistics issue, the rest of the experience is good. Overall, the pricing is about average at around $30 for each main; drinks have a good range and are reasonable too.
Along with catch-ups with friends, it would be ideal for groups or work functions.