Shop 3, 490 Crown Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010
Tuesday – Saturday dinner: 5.30pm to 10pm + Thursday – Saturday lunch: 12pm to 2pm
02 9331 3413
New chefs, new menu and a new take on Lebanese cuisine.
Nour (Arabic for light), opened three years ago thanks to restaurateur (and My Kitchen Rules’ finalist), Ibby Moubader, who had the vision to showcase classic Middle Eastern flavours in an innovative and creative way. Recently, Nour has welcomed some of the country’s most talented chefs, Ben Williamson (previously at Gerard’s Bistro, Brisbane), to take the reins as executive chef and a new head chef, Mike Dierlinger who hails from the two-hatted, The Bridge Room. Together, the team behind Nour have united with a fresh new vision to produce a stunning, unexpected and enticing menu, plus a new Sunday brunch offering.
Ben and Mike’s new menu focuses on shared plates cooked over charcoal and in a woodfired oven. Breads, dips, pickles, preserves, couscous and dairy items including yoghurt, labneh, curds and ashta (Lebanese cream) will all be made in-house, which is another nod to authentic and traditional Lebanese cuisine.
Hunter and Bligh were lucky enough to preview the new menu, and we can safely say, it was the ultimate Lebanese indulgence. However, if you’re after traditional homestyle Lebanese favourites like kibbeh, chicken mansaf, sambousek and tabouli, you won’t find it here. Instead, you’ll be delighted with a lighter, flavourful selection of meze and sophisticated dishes that pay homage to tradition, but look to the future.
To start we were treated to delicious little morsels which definitely paid homage to their heritage, but looked like spectacular, modern pieces of art. The falafel crumpet drizzled with tahini, sumac, onions and soft quail egg were bright in colour and bite. The sujuk shish (dry, spiced sausage) with sour cherry and jajik (similar to tzatziki) were presented spiked through ornate silver and gold skewers recently imported from Turkey. The perfect little teasers for what was to come.
Next were an assortment of meze which included ‘Turkish’ house bread, with nigella seeds, smoked butter with chickpea miso (possibly the lightest whipped butter we have ever had), house-made pita, handmade shanklish (small balls of cow’s milk covered in za’atar and aged – salty, moorish and simply divine when paired with the pita) and charred dill cucumbers.
But the meze of all meze was yet to come out which became one of the three. There are three standout picks we highly recommend to indulge in.
First off, the cured albacore, fava beans, confit peppers and basturma oil. Light, fresh and melt in your mouth. This was followed by the prawn shish barak fattehm with fermented chilli butter, yoghurt and chickpeas – ultimately a giant prawn dumpling loaded with flavour which was perfectly complemented by the creamy yoghurt sauce. Last but not least, was an interesting and modern twist; the tomatoes on a bed of smoked almond tarator, salted barberries and pickled garlic. It’s almost like an almond hummus, yet creamier. An absolute tick in our books.
Now the heavyweight champions – the coal grill and woodfire oven dishes. When we think of Lebanese cuisine we think meat and lots of it; we think charred and smokey goodness.
What we experienced was a refined, fine dining approach to what we love and expect, and it blew us away. The number one standout from the evening was the honey brined wagyu brisket, burnt eggplant puree and pickled kohlrabi (aka the German turnip). Perfectly sliced and seared pieces of wagyu fanned across the plate, with a small thick dollop of heavenly dark purple eggplant puree. The meat, tender and perfectly salted were crusted in a seared exterior bringing a very welcomed charred note to the palate.
Another serious contender was the Baby Snapper “samke harra” with chilli, tahini, nuts and tiny succulents. The snapper was a piece of art itself, surrounded by a pool of tahini, drizzled with drops of red chilli and brought to life with pops of green succulents. The Snapper had light, melt in your mouth flesh accompanied by the perfect crunch and spice. Another winning dish. Of course, there were also standout side dishes to pair with the mains, the slow roasted pumpkin with garlic labneh, spiced pepitas and date molasses was our pick.
But what’s a Lebanese feast without a sweet treat to finish it off? Word of warning, don’t skip the desserts, because these are exceptional.
If you’d like a light and refreshing finish to cleanse the plate, you can’t go past the organic rose petal Bouza with persimmon granita topped with pistachios. Vibrant in colour, sweet in flavour, it is refreshingly cool. If you’re after something a little heartier, yet not overpowering, you must order the Basboosa semolina cake with salt-baked pineapple, ashta, pineapple butter and cardamom ice-cream. The pineapple butter chunks (brown in colour) are reminiscent of sensationally soft and chewy caramel and was the highlight of the dish.
Everything we ate (more like inhaled), was cooked to perfection, tastefully balanced and presented with the utmost precision. What made the night an unforgettably positive experience were the wait, bar and host staff who were very friendly, knowledgeable and experienced and that’s definitely something to celebrate. The team working at Nour are first class, they know what they are doing, they know their food (even though it is a new menu) and they made us feel part of the family. Our hats are off to you all.