From writing The Food Blog to the popular Middle-Eastern pop-up restaurant Chic Pea, Fouad Kassab has opened Baraka in Pyrmont, a restaurant serving food inspired by the Middle East and memories of his childhood.
Baraka, meaning “a blessing” in Arabic, is focused on high quality produce such as grass-fed meats, sustainable seafood, ancient grains and traditional fats. If you’ve dined at Chic Pea, you’d be familiar with Kassab’s food ethos. At Baraka, the cuisine has been dialled up a few notches. You’ll find him welcoming guests like old friends, running the front of house and relating the story of the food.
The menu is not your traditional Middle Eastern food that you may be accustomed to, nor is it fusion cuisine for the sake of creating something avant garde. The dishes are inventive, well-thought, and remain true to Middle Eastern roots and flavours.
Dinner is available a la carte or a set menu for $65 per person which includes solid nine dishes with Turkish tea and coffee. At the time of visit, Baraka was operating with a BYO but from 28 May, the venue will be fully licenced (no BYO) so you will be able to complement the dining experience with a selection of Lebanese and Turkish wines, beers, raki and arak.
Spelt Bread & Pepe Saya Dukkah Butter
The mezze is the place to start but you won’t find Lebanese bread wedges. Instead, house-made Spelt Bread ($2.50 p/piece) is served warm with Pepe Saya Dukkah Butter ($2).
Pomegranate Hummus with Armenian Sausage
Pomegranate Hummus with Armenian sausage ($14) is a delight, smooth and creamy, accentuated by the spicy sausage that takes centre stage.
Caramelised Beetroot, Labna & Maple
Vibrant on the plate and the palate, the Caramelised Beetroot, Labna & Maple ($14) steals the limelight from its predecessor. Earthy with a hint of tartness on the finish, the dip is so light in texture, a feature that has become a trademark of Kassab’s dips.
Falafel Spiced Brussels Sprouts, Tahini
If you’re adamant not to eat Brussel Sprouts, the Falafel Spiced Brussels Sprouts and Tahini ($18) are set to convert you. The dish consists of crisp, fried Brussel Sprouts, falafel crumble which adds flavour and spice, and tahini that gives it a little richness. The ingredients come together very well and whole dish is testament that you can make friends with the divisive vegetable.
Barramundi with Pistachio Cream & Mediterranean Herbs
From the main sized dishes comes Barramundi with Pistachio Cream & Mediterranean Herbs ($28). Crisp on one side, moist and tender, on top of a tahini-like sauce made with pistachios. The herbs are served on top, tabouli style and consist of finely chopped coriander, mint, parsley, pistachio and Turkish chilli – a superb combination of flavours.
Spiced Chicken Pilaf, Tarator, Almonds
Eight spices go into the Spiced Chicken Pilaf with Tarator and Almonds ($28), cumin, coriander, clove, cinnamon, caraway, cardamom, black pepper and white pepper which explains the beautiful fragrance wafting from the plate. The chicken pieces are charcoal cooked, succulent with a lovely charred flavour accompanied by fluffy rice redolent with spices.
Slow-cooked Lamb Shoulder with Eggplant Begendi
You need to bring a healthy appetite for the Slow-cooked Lamb Shoulder with Eggplant Begendi ($55). The sweet and flavoursome meat falls off the bone onto a bed of delicious smoky eggplant puree. Pickled peppers and pickled wild cucumbers (Me’teh) add a touch of acid that cuts through the natural fat in the lamb. This is winter comfort food at its best.
Red Cabbage, Shanklish cheese, Iranian Raisins
A crisp salad of Red Cabbage, Shanklish Cheese, Iranian Raisins ($16) accompanies the lamb. While it may look like a simple salad at first, the shanklish cheese with its spice makes the dish.
Move over Eton Mess and make room for Middle-Eastern Chaos ($16). The dish not only has the wow factor but brings smiles of pleasure to the table. Beneath the rosewater meringue, you’ll find watermelon, strawberries, grapes, Pepe Saya rosewater mascarpone, pistachio and halwa. Simply divine. Finish with a Turkish coffee or a fragrant Turkish apple tea reminiscent of a shisa.
Baraka succeeds in modernising Middle-Eastern cuisine while staying true to its heritage. It’s unpretentious and inventive, pleasing the hardcore traditionalist.
Furthermore, Baraka is a supporter of OzHarvest. They donate a portion of their earnings, employ underprivileged youths that have undergone OzHarvest‘s Nourish training, and run monthly community dinners where all profits are donated. And if you feel inclined, you can always leave a donation as you leave.
Baraka serves dinner Thursday to Saturdays and if a full house on a Friday night is any indication, you can expect the venue to be booked out for some time.
56 Harris St, Pyrmont
Breakfast – Sunday 8am to 11:30pm
Lunch – Friday & Saturday between 11am and 2:30pm (starting the 29th of May)
Dinner – Thursday, Friday & Saturday
Phone: 02 8065 3657
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