Docklands has a bad rep for being cold, harsh and super windy. Unless I am on my bike and riding through it on the weekend, I will try and stay away at all costs. For the Melbournians, I am sure many share my sentiments. How do the cafe/restaurant/bar businesses survive in Docklands? So I was very excited when I got an invite to Byblos to try out their menu. Byblos is a lebanese tapas restaurant. This is the second Byblos restaurant in Australia. The first one is up in Brisbane and I have read some good reviews on it. I was even more excited to the invite when I saw a yummy thumbs up tweet from Wendy Hargreaves from Sunday Herald Sun. #nom
Anyway I arrived early at Byblos as I wanted to get some photos, have a chat with the venue manager, Will and the chef before the dinner started. The Byblos faces the Yarra river that has a better view when the weather is better.
After chatting a little, Will went off to prepare our dinner menu and setting up the place for the night. I was given full rein to roam the restaurant. I headed up stairs where it has another full bar. There are a couple of private rooms for rent and upstairs can be yours for a minimum spent of $4500 but is dependent of day and time of the year. It can fit 110 pax very easily.
I love the decor of the place. And I love the full bar and the selection of wine!
We started off with 3 types of dips & lebanese bread – baba ghanouj or eggplant dip which is so slightly smoky and nutty, hommos which is a chickpea dip that is super creamy and labneh which is a Lebanese cream cheese. All really beautiful and my personal favourite is the baba ghanouj. So yum!
Along side, we had very crunchy and fresh fattoush. This is a mixed green salad that is topped with crispy fried lebanese bread and drizzled with a light lemony and garlicky dressing. I think I went back for seconds and thirds.
I love tabouleh and was glad to see it as one of the dishes for the night. It is a salad of parsley, tomatoes, finely chopped onion, good dose of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Very refreshing and should go well with the rest of the dishes that came after.
Samak Harra is grilled dory with roasted red pepper ratatouille topped with toasted almonds.The dory was perfectly cooked. Still very soft on touch. The pepper ratatouille was naturally sweet with a hint of tang. Perfect and I had to snatch the last piece of fish.
And hello to Rekakat. Imagine soft feta and mozzarella wrapped in crispy filo pastry. I liked this dish but there was a mixed reaction as some felt it was a touch bland in comparison to the rest of the dishes. I am such a sucker for cheese so hooray to this dish. I love it!
And what is a meal without more carbs. We were served Batata Harra which is roasted cubed potatoes with lemon juice, olive oil and sprinkled with coriander and chilli powder. Salty, lemony and spicy. Beautiful!
The next dish is a favourite to many. It was escargot perfectly cooked with tahini, lemon juice, garlic and chilli. No chewy business and still super juicy! It has been a while since I had escargot.
I had a chat with the chef about these spiced sausages. The sausage mixture is made all in house and then sent to a supplier to get them made into sausages for them. They are called Makanek.These sausages are heavily spiced with a good hand of chilli powder.
One of the interesting things on the menu is the mixed grill. We got to try the Shish Tawook which is a chicken tenderloin marinated in olive oil, garlic, coriander and lemon juice. The chicken was really juicy and tender. We had more lebanese bread to soak up the lovely juices.
All mixed grill platter are served with hommos, tabouleh, grilled vegetables, garlic sauce and Lebanese bread. All this for $28 and I thought this was really affordable and good deal. And can I recommend that if you do, make Lahim Meshwi as one of the choices. These lamb are super tender but does have a rather strong lamb scent.
At some point during dinner, I jokingly mentioned to Meagan that there was no dessert on the evening’s menu. She told us that she will do what she can and I said I was just joking and left it as that. So we were all delighted when the dessert tasting plate was served at the end of the meal. My favourite was the almond semolina cake. Not too sweet, nice almond flavour and just so moist. We also had turkish delight, baklava and a date cake. All yum but I will go back just for the almond semolina cake.
And of course, we were all served with a strong Turkish coffee to go with our sweet ending.
I will like to thank Will for the invite and hosting the dinner. I will like to thank my company, Gemma from Eat Drink and Stagger, @girlbug and Elliot from 1001 Nights. A very special thank you to head chef, Nicholas Mattar and sous chef, Nino Kanaan for chatting with me in the kitchen. Both Lebanese and very fun people. Nick is from the Brisbane kitchen and taken up the challenge here in Melbourne. He is still getting to know the city, the food and the suppliers. Thanks for cooking such a nice meal for us. And also big thank you to the team. We were all very well looked after and the food is good.
The stretch of restaurants are still pretty close to the city and easy to get to. I am still skeptical because it is the Docklands and the reputation it has. I really hope that these people do well. They do good Labanese food and have a great drink menu. I will certainly be back again with my friends.
Many thanks to Will and his team at Byblos for the lovely evening!
Do you like talking to chefs and going behind the scenes as well?