Review: La Beirut, Killara

Over the course of any average year, I get a lot of friends and family who come to Sydney to visit me. Almost every time someone stays on our couch, they will say to me, “Can you suggest somewhere for lunch, close to your place?”

And the problem is, I have nowhere to recommend as I don’t actually eat anywhere that’s within easy walking distance of my apartment! While I eat in Chatswood quite often, it’s still a train ride away rather than reachable on foot. Most of the time if K and I are planning on going out for dinner, we’ll make it a destination dinner somewhere in the city.

Now though, I can finally recommend somewhere local to others, as K and I recently visited La Beirut in Killara, and it serves amazing Lebanese food – some of the best I’ve had.


We went there with a Living Social daily deal voucher that I bought – $29 for a Mixed Grill plate and coffee and dessert for two people. For less than $15/pp, it was a daily deal that I just couldn’t pass up. It’s within easy walking distance of both Killara and Lindfield train stations (15 minutes either way), and is located in a stretch of Pacific Highway that’s otherwise almost entirely residential. It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kind of a location.


While not completely full on the Wednesday night that we were there, the restaurant remained quite busy throughout the night, with at least half the tables and booths full, and regular takeaway orders as well. It’s only been in operation for a couple of months, but it’s definitely proving popular with us locals!

Unfortunately, they seem a little short-staffed. The one waitress on the night was run off her feet – busily bustling between tables and kitchen, front counter and kitchen, and trying to take all the phone takeaway orders as well.


I ordered a Mango Zabdo ($10), without knowing quite what it would be like. It came out as a yoghurt-type of drink, not dissimilar to an Indian-style lassi though I find it a bit sweeter and less tangy. It proves to be a surprisingly good accompaniment to the mixed grill plate to come.


And here it is in all its glory! The Mixed Grill plate (normally $25) comes with “your choice of 3 skewers lamb, chicken and kafta served with hummus, baba ganoush, tabouli and falafel”. All three dips on the plate were done really well – the eggplant of the baba ganoush was delightfully smokey, the hummus was smooth and lightly spiced, and the garlic dip…well, it was so chock full of garlic that I was positively repellant to vampires for three days after the meal!

The various grilled meats were all chargrilled to perfection too. The lamb in particular was tender and tasty, the falafel had a good crust on it, and the kafta was really well spiced. The tabouli made for a good accompaniment as well, as it was well-dressed with a tangy citrus dressing.


After absolutely stuffing ourselves to the brim on the massive Mixed Grill plate (keep in mind we had one each!), I found it really hard to justify indulging in a piece of Baklava (normally $3) to finish our meal…oh who am I kidding, I always manage to find space for baklava! Unfortunately this wasn’t exactly the best baklava I’ve had, it seemed a little stale despite being “home made”. I also feel like it was almost too soaked in honey (if that’s possible!), rendering the filo a bit too soggy for true enjoyment.


K finished his meal with a small serving of Lebanese Coffee (normally $7) which I skipped.

I’m delighted to have found a ‘local treasure’ – somewhere that I can proudly recommend to friends and family as somewhere where they can find a good meal for a good price. While we went using a Daily Deal, the prices are so reasonable that I’d return and pay full price for that Mixed Grill plate again!

La Beirut on Urbanspoon

Review: El Karim, Roseville

It’s sad, but K and I rarely eat out in our neighborhood – it’s almost a case of the proverbial “grass is greener on the other side”, and we often find ourselves eating out ‘on the other side’ rather than on our own turf.

However I’ve been fascinated by El Karim in Roseville for a while – it seems like every time we drive past, the restaurant has been absolutely packed with diners, regardless of whether it’s a weekend or weekday. Any place with that kind of a dedicated customer base is always worth a visit, so when it popped up on the Good Food Under $30 list, I made it my mission to go!

We showed up on a whim late on a Tuesday night without a reservation, greeted with nothing but smiles. It was late and I was hungry, so we didn’t waste time dilly-dallying about the menu, quickly made our choices and sat back with a glass of ‘Rose de Ksara’ Lebanese wine as our food started arriving.

Grilled Haloumi, $11

Grilled. Haloumi. Put those two words together and you get pure heaven. I am a total cheese addict, a fiend if there ever was one. These were grilled well, and had the delicious salty tart taste that only the most excellent haloumi can maintain. The addition of the sliced tomato and cucumber was a really nice touch as well, providing a fresh contrast to the saltiness of the haloumi.


A basket of delicious pita bread is delivered to our table as we wait for our main course, and I find it hard to stop myself from continuing to reach for more as I keep eating piece after piece of pita bread! I often find the pita bread I buy at the supermarket to be quite stale – this on the other hand, is lovely and fresh and very moreish.

Samak Med: Chargrilled fish fillet topped with garlic, chilli and parsley in a homemade tomato sauce. Served with rice. $18
Samak Med: Chargrilled fish fillet topped with garlic, chilli and parsley in a homemade tomato sauce. Served with rice. $18

Ordering off the specials menu proves a hit in this main course! The fish fillet is deliciously smokey and crispy on the outside, but lovely and soft on the inside – the flesh of the fish is tender and flaky. While the idea of pairing fish with a tomato sauce sounded strange on the menu, this particular style worked well. The chunky chutney-style sauce was extremely flavour-rich with lots of garlic and chilli that left a lovely afterburn. A surprisingly excellent dish – one that definitely deserves to be on the main menu and not just a specials menu!

Shish barak. Tortellini-like parcels filled with mince lamb, onions and parsley in yoghurt, garlic and coriander sauce. Served with vermicelli rice. $18
Shish barak. Tortellini-like parcels filled with mince lamb, onions and parsley in yoghurt, garlic and coriander sauce. Served with vermicelli rice. $18

Our next dish was more miss than hit – it took a while to come out of the kitchen (making the tortellini from scratch perhaps?), and I found the thickness of the tortellini parcels disappointingly thick. While I am used to the Asian-style dumplings with thinner wrappings, I think these tortellini were definitely on the thick side and without the yoghurt sauce, would have been quite bland and unappealing. The yoghurt sauce was what saved this dish, but even that was on the overly sour side.

Baklava ($6) and Znoud El Sit (Filo pastry filled with semolina custard and dipped in orange blossom syrup, $4 each)
Baklava ($6) and Znoud El Sit (Filo pastry filled with semolina custard and dipped in orange blossom syrup, $4 each)

Luckily we finished our meal with some sweet treats to counteract any sourness of our main dish. Ordering baklava is a must for me any time I’m in a Turkish or Lebanese restaurant, and these ones didn’t disappoint, with just the right amount of rosewater syrup infused in the flaky filo pastry. The Znoud El Sit was a hit as well – while I thought it might be too sweet (syrup and custard?), it was just sweet enough to satisfy a sweet tooth but not to make it ache!

Overall, I rate El Karim a solid 8 out of 10. The service is friendly, and most of the food is excellent – if you stick to the more traditional Lebanese fare rather than choosing to venture into more unusual dishes.

El Karim on Urbanspoon