Arabella Restaurant and Bar
489 - 491 King St
Arabella is a large and very popular Lebanese restaurant. The name is a blending to reflect its Arabic heritage and bella meaning beauty - and the restaurant does both these areas justice. I was dining with the Princess who loves Lebanese food.
The service is unobtrusively attentive and very friendly - Mohamad and his team make you feel right at home.
The decor is nice here too - not overstated. They have outside seating and a variety of areas inside ranging from cosy nooks and tables and right through to function areas for larger groups - and the added extra of belly dancers on Fridays and Saturdays!
We were having the banquet and started with the trio of dips - hoummous, babaganouj and garlic labneh. These three are all traditional favourites and they were all great. I loved the hoummous - it was so full of flavour, but the Princess favoured the garlic labneh - eating almost all of it on her own even though it had quite a good hit of garlic to it. The fresh soft Lebanese bread that came with it topped it off perfectly.
The salads are sooooo fresh here. We commenced with a beautiful tabbouleh made of parsley, shallots, mint, tomato, crushed whet and lemon. It was crisp and tangy and we just wanted to eat more once we started it.
Our next salad was the fattoush made from tomato, cucumber, shallots, radish, capsicum, green vegetables and fried crispy bread. The blend of textures and flavours were set off perfectly with the pomegranate, lemon and olive oil dressing.
More fresh salads arrived - this time the bean salad - which had a real punch to it with chilli's throughout it. Its a great way to get your greens and enjoy them for those that are reluctant.
One of my favourites of the night was the Arabella coriander potatoes - a lovely mix with a strong hit of lemon that was amazing. I couldn't stop eating this - even though it was a substantial serving.
Our next treat was a mixed plate with fried kebbi, ladies fingers and falafel. All of them were extremely good.
Fried kebbi is a crisp pastry half moon filled with lamb mince, onions and pine nuts. The combination goes well with the subtle nut flavours merging with the tender lamb textures and taste.
Ladies fingers are crispy rolls filled with feta cheese, herbs and parsley. The cheese oozes out when you bite into them. Its a great taste.
Falafel is of course a traditional dish which is also a vegetarian favourite consisting of chickpeas, broadbeans herbs and pickles that are deep fried. The outer crunch was well complemented with the softer texture inside.
If you haven't tried Lebanese pizza before - or arraais - you need to!
This stuff is good - and seriously good here at Arabella.
This version was basically two layers of bread sandwiching a combination of minced lamb, herbs and spices and then of course cooked.
The crisp outer and soft fragrant filling was really delicious.
A quick squeeze of fresh lemon juice on top adds further to the experience.
Our final main meal component was a very substantial and totally delicious mixed shish kebab plate.
On the plate was juicy tender lamb, gently spicy kafta and some of the best marinated tender chicken I've ever tasted.
The Princess raved about the lamb and devoured it whilst I was equally excited about the chicken which had amazing flavour and melted in the mouth.
The dip that came with this plate was also amazing - crushed ice, fresh garlic and lemon juice all blended smoothly together.
I couldn't stop eating it - even though I knew it would linger later!
We finally finished with some sweet nibbles. I'm a Turkish delight addict and loved having this as a finale. The halva was also great - a sweet mixture of semolina and sugar in a cake square.
We also had some lovely wines to add to the whole dining experience - including a surprisingly good Turkish red (I hadn't tried Turkish wine before).
Arabella is a great experience. The food is top quality - fresh, fragrant and hard to stop eating once you start. I find it very hard to understand why this place doesn't rate better on some sites - if you've eaten here recently you'd experience what we did! The food was great in quality and quantity and the service attentive. All we can say is try it yourself - we did and would glady go back.
Sir and Mlady dined as guests of Arabella.