233 King Street, Newtown NSW 2042
After more than 13 years of being in business El Bahsa must be doing something right. I've never eaten here before but have passed countless times and have always thought it was more of a cafe rather than somewhere I'd find authentic Lebanese food. This was mainly due to it's American diner looking booths and noticing the menu included risotto, scotch fillet, fish of the day, pasta, soup, wedges, caesar salad and Thai chicken salad — I seriously think they have a bit of a menu identity crisis. Venturing in with 8 other friends for dinner my expectations of good Lebanese were pretty low even though about half the menu is devoted to Lebanese dishes. As a starter the Pesto bruschetta-toasted vienna topped with sundried tomato, pesto, roasted capsicum and melted mozarella ($8.90) is topped high with ingredients and seemed well received. The Grilled haloumi cheese served with roasted pine nuts and sundried tomato ($16.50) came with plenty of rocket salad, was well liked and tasty. Potato coriander-diced potatoes served with garlic, coriander and lemon ($9.90) was a crowd pleaser.
Decently sized Lebanese main dishes were next. The Mixed Grill ($25.90, $49 for two) came with three different skewers of marinated chicken breast fillet, kafta and backstrap lamb fillet and was served with hommus, tabouli, babaghanoush and lebanese bread. The Shishtawook ($18) comes with three skewers of marinated chicken breast fillet served with pureed garlic dip. I found the salad perhaps a little dry and focussed too much on onion. My generously sized Lebanese platter ($24.90, $47 for two) came with a selection of hommus, babaghanoush, tabouli, eggplant, zucchini, cauliflower, falafel, lamb, chicken and kafta — this is the one for those that want a bit of everything. I really had trouble finishing it because it was so large but I hate wasting food. I was pretty happy with everything on the platter which was all tasty, nicely cooked with a bit of smokiness and the meat was fairly tender and juicy — I'd have this one again but could possibly share one between two. Perhaps would order an extra serve of falafel which were freshly cooked and had a nice crunch factor while remaining moist of the inside with good flavour. Perhaps not as good as Jasmin but a worthy vegetarian treat for next time.
PROS: Friendly service, Decently sized dishes, They can cook Lebanese food, Intimate and cosy booth seating
CONS: Not sure what their other cafe style dishes are like, Watch out for the staple work on the back of the booths, Parking is a nightmare in Newtown
MUST TRY: Lebanese platter
Pesto bruschetta-toasted vienna topped with sundried tomato, pesto, roasted capsicum and melted mozarella ($8.90)
Grilled haloumi cheese served with roasted pine nuts and sundried tomato on a bed of rocket salad, drizzled with balsamic dressing ($16.50)
Mixed Grill of three different skewers, marinated chicken breast fillet, kafta and backstrap lamb fillet, served with hommus, tabouli, babaghanoush and lebanese bread ($25.90, $49 for two)
Lebanese platter-a selection of hommus, babaghanoush, tabouli, eggplant, zucchini, cauliflower, falafel. lamb, chicken and kafta ($24.90, $47 for two)
Attention to detail — not quite!
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