It’s a bid sad to admit but when we go out for dinner for an occasion, we tend to head out towards the city and overlook all the hidden gems studded around our local area. It was time for a change so this time we kept it local and headed to El Karim in Roseville for a birthday celebration.
Lebanese food is not something that any of us are particularly familiar with, so we’re grateful for the explanation of what all dishes are on the menu. Each dish is very reasonably priced with nothing over $17, and a couple of set banquet menus for groups. We receive a plate of complimentary pickles to start us off which whet the appetite for the other dishes to come.
To sample a range of things, we begin with a trio of dips which allows us to select any three of the dips offered. The hommos b’awarma is the clear favourite, with nubbins of lamb mince, onions and pine nuts on top of a creamy hommos. The baba ghanouj is mildly smoky and the labni b’zaatar is a herby, nutty dip which for some reason reminds me of salted peanuts. The dips are served with an absolute mountain of Lebanese bread, which is enough for all the dip and more.
I love the fresh Fattoush salad which has crisp lettuce, tomato and capsicum, and is dusted with sumac. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and some toasted shards of Lebanese bread and you have a salad that is light and refreshing with extra crunch.
We move to some of the more substantial dishes with the char-grilled chicken wings being served up first. The marinated chicken wings are moist and flavoursome and made even better by a light brush of garlic sauce on the top. Actually what would make them even better is if I had a bucket of garlic sauce for dunking, but alas no bucket of garlic sauce to be seen.
The pomegranate lamb is a sweet, oven baked stew of tender lamb strips, onions, capsicum, almonds and bright red jewel-like pomegrante arils. It’s a little too sweet for my liking, but the saffron rice and lemon wedge tones down the sweetness a bit.
Six piping hot slices of char-grilled eggplant are brought out next, each thick circular slice grilled until soft and tender and then brushed with garlic sauce and parsley. This dish was simple but absolutely delicious, especially with a bit of lemon juice to give it a bit of tang.
The tawouk comes out as two skewers of chicken breast meat with a mound of saffron rice. The chicken looks a bit dry but is surprisingly tender and moist, with a tasty marinade on the outside. A small dish of garlic sauce accompanies the tawouk for dipping.
And lastly we finish with the grilled haloumi. They’re a little bit salty for me but that doesn’t stop me from downing the whole piece and savouring the chewy, squeaky texture of the cheese. The cucumber and tomato are the perfect complement to the salty cheese and provide a bit of crunch and freshness to the dish.
The restaurant was packed out on a Saturday night and our little foray into a local restaurant certainly proved to be a good choice. We had great food, friendly service and the vibe of the restaurant was warm and homely. The staff were welcoming and helpful and this experience will definitely encourage us to dine closer to home more often!
126 Pacific Highway
Roseville NSW 2069
Ph: +61 2 9416 4099
Open Tuesday to Saturday, from 6pm