We preview Chic Pea, a new Middle-Eastern restaurant in Summer Hill, soon to open to the public.
To the online Middle-Eastern food world, Fouad Kassab needs little introduction. He is the man behind the popular Middle-Eastern blog, The Food Blog, a food writer and a talented cook with an olive oil brunch and pop-up dinners under his belt. He has now added a restaurant venture to his repertoire with the soon-to-open, Chic Pea.
Fouad Kassab was born in Lebanon and emigrated to Australia in 2001. Since 2006, he has been musing about the food of the Levant, and started the blog to document his culinary learning experience and to share his heritage and culture.
Chic Pea will operate out of Plunge, an established café, in Summer Hill. Along business partner and owner Hesham El Masry, the restaurant will open on Friday and Saturday nights.
Over the weekend, Chic Pea hosted a soft launch for select guests to showcase an enticing menu entrenched in Middle-Eastern flavours and ingredients. “It’s not about changing culture or identity,” Fouad Kassab explained. The food is based on his approach to eating, it’s gluten free and the dishes that don’t weigh you down.
Chic Pea offers an inventive menu of share plates, shying away from the traditional Mezze followed by main dishes. Four to five dishes for two persons are ample, and the price point – while still being fine-tuned – ranges from $5 to below $25.
Almond Bread with Pepe Saya Dukkah Butter
In the true style of Middle-Eastern hospitality, guests were served every dish on the menu starting with an addictive warm almond bread – Fouad’s own creation – topped with poppy seeds and served with Pepe Saya dukkah butter.
An ultra-smooth Pomegranate Hummus with Burnt Butter and Hazelnuts set the tone of the remaining dishes – this is Lebanese/Middle-Eastern food but not as you know it.
Middle-Eastern Cheese and Herbs
Next was a simple salad with Shanklish and Baladiyeh, a cow’s milk cheese, heirloom tomatoes with fresh oregano and thyme that made the flavours sing.
Roasted Beetroot with Labnah
A dish of Roasted Beetroot over labnah, sprinkled za’atar, black sesame and lightly glazed with organic maple was a good balance of sweet and savoury with the earthy flavour of the root vegetable.
Beef and Pistachio Kofta
The standout dish was the flavoursome Beef/Lamb and Pistachio Kofta on top of smoky Baba Ghanouj and Pickles. Pomegranate seeds added a little tartness that cut through the fat in the meat.
Lentil and Lemon Tabbouli
The Lentil and Lemon Tabbouli was another take on a popular Lebanese dish that worked well.
Siyyadiyeh, a popular dish along the coast of Lebanon, is a rice pilaf was made with local snapper. The dish was buttery in the mouth with subtle spice and flaked almonds for texture.
Slow-Cooked Lamb with Chickpeas
The Slow-Cooked Dorper Lamb with Chickpeas, Prunes and Caraway melted in the mouth with a sweetness that didn’t overpower the flavour of the meat.
Pistachio Ashta, Rose Ice-Cream
For dessert, Pistachio Ashta, Rose Ice-cream, fresh fig, persimmon, currants and Summer Hill honey put a sweet finale to the evening, matched with a glass of Moscato D’Asti.
Chic Pea is licensed and the wine list has been put together by Harshal Shah, Sommelier at Aki’s. The international selection of wines spans Germany, Austria, Argentina and Australia, just to name a few, with Chateau Musar from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon offered by the glass or the bottle. 961 Beer from Lebanon sits alongside O’Brien Gluten Free Pale Ale from Ballarat Victoria and you’ll find a modest range of champagne and sparkling wines.
Chic Pea offers a breath of fresh air to the Sydney Middle-Eastern dining scene and the inner west. The recipes may not always be traditional but the ingredients and flavours are authentic, and the creativity behind the dishes will bring you back.
Chic Pea opens to the public on Saturday the 12th of April, 2014.
46 Lackey St.
Summer Hill NSW 2130
Dinner on Fridays and Saturdays from 6:30pm
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