A Lebanese affair at Nour Surry Hills
In our vast culinary tapestry, Lebanese food has not held its rightful space. The influence in our culture from three waves of immigration dating back to the late 1880's, with the most recent being from the mid 70's through to 1990 as a result of the civil war, is obvious. There are always going to be Middle Eastern restaurants and food. But, how authentic were they willing to be? Most tend to be run of the mill.
Then there is Nour. In Surry Hills in inner Sydney, Nour is owned and operated by former TV reality contestant, Ibby Moubadder. He also owns the Henrietta Chook outlets and recently purchased Pizza e Birra in the neighbouring building. Nour has hosted Brisbane's superstar Ben Williamson (Agnes and Bianca) alongside Exec Chef Mike Dierlenger. To be fair Moubadder was always in the industry prior to TV and will remain so for many a year we hope.
The venue is a stunner and as much as we love to see something new, enjoy the hype and all of that hoo haa, we also like to let the dust settle, to see how things travel after while and if the offer is the same. In this case, it sure is. A light bright fit out, its a delightful lunch spot as well as somewhere to spend your Saturday evening people watching on Crown Street.
The menu demands sharing and if you are unsure of where to point your eyes, let the team guide you. We had a particularly flirty Argentinian who made sure we had as much fun as we could and got the best out of the menu. The team is generally attentive, although there were times we felt we needed to wave the arms in the air to order some more wine or have some refills on the water. This kind of hit and miss at times, at these prices, can be a little frustrating, especially where more wine is concerned.
With so much choice, we had to be sensible. Chicken bits shawarma, tarator, pickled cabbage and yoghurt bread was an easy pick, and a hit among the crew. The yoghurt bread a tad dry but we are possibly being a little picky. Other starters we shared were Wagyu intercostal skewer, biber salçası with some crisp Armenian pickled cucumber, a lovely combination dish of Falafel dumplings, pickled broad beans, sumac onions and parsley oil, and the staple dish in any good Lebanese household, hummus served with some wagyu beef tongue and green tomato. This dish was lipsmackingly good and one of our group may have been caught licking the plate.
Because we are gluttons, a carob glazed lamb shoulder came next with mujadara (a lentil and rice combination) and crispy onion. To assuage our guilt from not enough veg, we added both fried cauliflower with wood roasted grapes, and brussels sprouts (neither of which appeal to the author at all, but were devoured with the gusto of the exceptionally hungry). The lamb was fall apart good, could have done with a sprinkle of salt and the carob was punchy enough to make this a stand out dish.
Dessert was absolutely unnecessary at this stage but there is something to be said about the 'other' stomach which can always house a pudding. To that end, a chocolate parfait with burnt tahini ( a revelation) and Iranian fig joined a mafroukeh, a mouthwatering dessert of layered pistachio semolina dough, soured apricot paste and ashta cream - a clotted cream of sorts. Both went down the screech very quickly, and were very good.
This far into its journey, and with an entrepreneurial bent to the owner, Nour should remain a stalwart in Surry Hills. Were we into it, we'd be giving this place 4 stars.
Nour Surry Hills is at 490 Crown St, Surry Hills
Check website for opening hours.