I am a freelance reviewer in Sydney, and lover of sharing my experiences in all things food, wine, entertainment and travel related.
Published May 28th 2012
In good news, one no longer has to hop on a train to Bankstown to get some Lebanese fare in Sydney's East with thanks to the recent opening of Sammy's Restaurant.
Well known for their takeaway shop in Brighton Le Sands, the owners of Sammy's Lebanese have taken a foothold in Sydney's East, opening a restaurant on the North side of Coogee and bringing some much needed variety to the suburb which has an abundance of Thai and Italian restaurant offerings.
You wouldn't stumble across this restaurant as it's not on the main drag of eat Streets in Coogee. However, one short walk up the hill away from the beach just up from the Coogee Palace, and you can begin to smell the goodness of Sammy's Restaurant, with the tantalising aromas of its charcoal rotisserie chickens which could spark event the most dormant of appetites. From the outside the decor might not look too flash but the food is great and cheap, and you will not leave hungry.
Sammy's Restaurant offers an extensive menu which includes a wide selection of traditional Middle Eastern food and sweets. With a four page menu, it is a hard choice for what to pick, but it would be silly not to have the charcoal chicken, given the Brighton Le Sands sister restaurant is known especially for these mouth-watering chickens.
All your traditional Lebanese fare is on the menu, with freshly made salads, dips, charcoal cooked meats and vegetarian options, and the menu also has a range of Banquet Menu's which are available from 5pm for a minimum of two persons, starting from as little as $30 per person.
It's wise to try a banquet for the first time, as they are good value and let you sample a wide variety of dishes, but be warned, be sure to come with a huge appetite as it's a feast of biblical proportions.
Banquet B, is excellent value at $40 per person, for a 15-course Lebanese degustation, allowing you to sample a smorgasbord of Middle Eastern dishes and make a big dent in the restaurant's menu.
For starters, there was the Hommus - a creamy and delicious dip made from chickpeas and Tahini; and the Babaganouj dip - a freshly made, tasty, smoked eggplant dip. Both are served with fresh Lebanese flat bread and a crunchy deep fried version as well.
Salads soon follow with Tabbouleh – a cracked wheat, tomato and fresh herb salad, followed by one of my favourite dishes of the night – the Fattoush Salad. Do not by any means, miss sampling this delightful salad. The Fattoush Salad is made from Lebanese bread which is oiled and toasted, and mixed with radish, tomato, cucumber, fresh herbs and spiced with Sumac, oil, lemon and honey. It is a crisp, Middle Eastern, flavoursome salad that refreshes the palate.
Next to be brought out is the Falafel which is crispy, and the Stuffed Vine Leaves, which are soft and easily eaten. The Kibbeh, which is a football-shaped croquette consisting of an interior of juicy minced lamb, exotic spices, pine nuts and bulgur wheat, is deep fried and housed in a smooth yet crunchy exterior.
The meats finally arrive soon after, and the Shawarma, Kofta and Lamb and Chicken Skewers all are juicy, tender and scrumptious.
The little missiles of spiced Lebanese sausages are also nice, but the show-stealer of course is the must-try charcoal chicken. The chicken is tender, juicy and seared to perfection.
After reaching food coma stage, we are given a doggy bag for our leftovers which we wouldn't dare waste, and are given some Baklava sweets for dessert, which we somehow manage to squeeze in.
Overall Sammy's restaurant is a clean, family-friendly and good value Lebanese restaurant which is fully licensed. It is a simple location for dinner, minus all the bells and whistles and the belly-dancer entertainment usually found Lebanese restaurants. If you prefer you can always takeaway, and if you live close, they can also do home delivery.
The restaurant was quiet but it is excused given it is brand new, but it won't be long until this restaurant will be buzzing with locals hoeing into the food.