I had The Clash’s tune in my head since I read the email inviting us for Nestor’s birthday lunch at Kazbah. Not that I’m a Clash fan, but growing up in the eighties with two sisters that were teenagers at the time had a big influence in my little brain.
Anyway, the chosen Kazbah was the one in Balmain (they have restaurants in Top Ryde and Darling Harbour, too). I got there a bit early and ordered a glass of rose, which was served at the table after the waiter showed me the bottle. Classy. I also was served tap water in a beautiful bottle-necked jug with mint leaves inside. The waiters serve the water from a distance for a lovely effect.
Our table was booked for 2:30 pm to wait for one of our friends to get out from work. Unfortunately half of our group was running late and at 2:40 the waiters advised us that the last orders had to be placed by 3. To make things a bit simpler, I ordered a bunch of dishes to share.
Food didn’t took long to arrive, presumably because kitchen staff wanted to finish off lunch business and get ready for dinner service. The first thing to arrive were the Dips & Bread (Hummus, Babaghanouj, Taramasalata, Tzatziki, Beetroot, Carrot). The dips were good, but a little on the mild side. The basket were loaded with two kinds of bread: crispy Lebanese and slightly toasted Turkish. The crispy was a tad to oily for my taste, I’d have preferred plain Lebanese instead. We ordered an additional bread basket soon after.
Dips & Bread ($16.9)
I had ordered the Lemon Pepper Chicken Shish Kebab with Tomato Caraway Sauce, but the kitchen sent Lamb Kafta Shish Kebab with Pomegranate Glaze instead. I didn’t realise immediately and even if I did, we were at fault by making them work past their closing time. All shish kebabs come skewered with onions & capsicums, and served with chickpea & nut pilaf. The meat and vegetables were taken out of the skewer at our table. It was nice, but again I noticed the flavour very mild.
Lamb Kafta Shish Kebab, Pomegranate Glaze ($30)
Served on top of baby spinach and a bed of tomato couscous, and with a small dollop of harissa yoghurt on top, the fish of the day looked incredibly tasty. The serving was pretty generous (well, maybe not that much considering the price), and the fish was perfectly cooked, but unfortunately, both the fish and the couscous were underseasoned.
Fish of the Day, Tomato Couscous, Baby Spinach, Harissa Yoghurt ($36)
The Kazbah’s Mixed Mezze Plate to Share was great for tasting a bit of different things but I wish I had ordered it for 8 people instead of 4. The tabouli salad was a nice fresh touch to our meal but the stars of the plate were the marinated fish (whitebait?) and the green beans in tomato sauce with feta cheese.
Kazbah’s Mixed Mezze Plate to Share ($18 pp)
We had to order one of the restaurant’s popular tagines. The Lamb Shank, Prunes, Carrots Tagine, served with carrot steamed couscous, was nice but once again very mild in flavour and not very meaty (quantity-wise).
Lamb Shank, Prunes, Carrots Tagine (served with Carrot Steamed Couscous) ($31)
The Moroccan BBQ Plate also was a great way of having a taste of several dishes at once. I had a bite of almost everything and must say that the little morsels were very tasty.
Moroccan BBQ Plate ($38)
The Chermoula Marinated Olives were flavourful, with a nice kick of spices to awaken our taste buds. We just wished there were more.
Chermoula Marinated Olives ($8.9)
Because portions were not particularly big, we had lots of room for dessert, but ordering dessert at that stage was completely out of the question. Luckily the latecomers arrived with a chocolate mousse birthday cake. Even when the restaurant was closed, the friendly waiter lighted up the candles for us.
At all times service was excellent and the restaurant has beautiful decor, without being overly fancy. But $42 per person felt a bit pricey for Westernized dishes that didn’t fill us up.
379 Darling Street
Balmain NSW 2041
(02) 9555 7067