Review: Al Aseel (Surry Hills)

When you’re out of action because of an injured limb all you wanna do is go out and have a good time. That’s what happened to my friend Vicky, who fell while doing indoor rock climbing and hurt her foot. Four weeks after, she was ready to get some fresh air and a nice dinner.

The four of us were seated right next to the special celebration table, that night hosting a hen party.

Celebration table

Celebration table

All tables are greeted with complimentary olives, pickles and Lebanese bread kept in a plastic bag to prevent them from getting dry.

Olives, pickles and Lebanese bread

Olives, pickles and Lebanese bread

Since we were celebrating the recovery of our dear friend we all had drinks that night: a cosmopolitan for Vicky, a vodka rocks with lime for Bonnie, a glass of shiraz/cabernet/merlot for me and a Lebanese tea for Neil (I didn’t say all drinks were alcoholic). Interestingly, Neil said the tea had no distinctive flavour and was in fact weak.

We ordered a bowl of hommos & pine nuts to put the bread to good use (yes, I ate bread, it was a cheat meal after all). The hommos was awesome, super smooth and tasty, and the pine nuts gave it extra flavour points. We wiped the bowl clean.

Hommos & pine nuts

Hommos & pine nuts ($12.00)

For main, Bonnie ordered the Al Aseel lemon garlic chicken, described as “marinated BBQ chicken breast tossed in our special garlic sauce served with capsicum bread, parsley, onion, tomato & garlic dip”. She received a plate full of chicken morsels “drowning in garlic sauce” (her words) with a wedge of lemon and half a cherry tomato on top. Her first concern was the sauce, because she has problems with dairy. When she asked the waiter what was on the sauce, he said “garlic”. What a genius. Bonnie asked if there was any dairy in it, he said no, she asked what made the sauce white, he went to ask to the manager and came back saying “no dairy”. It had yogurt. Waiters of Australia please take note: yogurt is a dairy product. Bonnie decided to be cool about it and just not eat all the sauce that would have not seem excessive if the capsicum bread in the menu wasn’t missing (the dip was missing too but with all the sauce it really wasn’t necessary). By the end of the meal, Bonnie asked the manager about the capsicum bread and the dip. Without any apologies or sign of concern he said it was just fried bread and they didn’t have any. Managers and restaurateurs of Australia, take note: customers like to know when their meals won’t arrive as described in the menu because you’ve ran out of something. Luckily, the chicken was way better than the service. The sauce had a strong flavour but very very tasty. I reckon this dish is better to share instead of having all that protein on your own.

Lemon garlic chicken

Lemon garlic chicken ($23.00)

Neil ordered the combo version of the same dish. It’s called “all chicken lemon garlic mixed plate” and has a smaller serving (but still plentiful) serving of the chicken in sauce, plus hommos, baba ghanouj, tabouli, falafel, and garlic dip. Just as I write this post I realise he didn’t get the hommos. Still the meal was huge for one person. The baba ghanouj and garlic dip were both excellent.

All chicken lemon garlic mixed plate

All chicken lemon garlic mixed plate ($25.00)

Vicky and I shared two dishes, the lamb shawarma and the grilled mixed seafood & salad. The lamb (pan-grilled marinated shredded lamb served with capsicum bread, parsley, onion, tomato & garlic dip) did come with the dip but no capsicum bread. The taste of both the lamb and the dip was alright but nothing special. Even I can cook tastier lamb.

Lamb shawarma

Lamb shawarma ($17.00)

The grilled mixed seafood & salad was huge, the seafood (calamari, baby octopus and prawns) was well seasoned and perfectly cooked, but I found the salad (lots of lettuce, some onion and cucumber) a bit boring. The restaurant’s special seafood dressing wasn’t that special for me, I’d prefer a simple vinaigrette perhaps seasoned with Lebanese spices.

Grilled mixed seafood & salad

Grilled mixed seafood & salad ($25.00)

Dinner was multimedia-enhanced by a brief belly dancing show. Luckily, she didn’t pick any of us to attempt moving the belly like her.

Belly dancer

Belly dancer

Al Aseel
529 Elizabeth Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010
(02) 9690 1099

7 thoughts on “Review: Al Aseel (Surry Hills)

  1. Now that’s what I call service! Not! The clueless attitude of the staff is terrible. As good as the food looks the only thing that keeps me away from these places is the god-awful belly dancers. I can’t stand themed restaurants!

  2. I detest bad service – there is no need to be rude to customers, esp if they have done nothing to provoke the rudeness. I love Lebanese food though.

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