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Ela Carte's the Talk of the Town

Posted by: Ela Carte | 7 December, 2012 - 4:39 PM
Ela Carte - Falafel

Lebanese Talk of the Town – 446 Glenhuntly Road Elsternwick     

Sometimes the great food experiences happen by accident. Like last week, when I had grand plans to try one of those funky new eateries that don’t take bookings, and thought I should be right getting a table at just after 6pm on a Sunday night. So, I swung by and picked up a friend who spent the short car drive raving about an unassuming Lebanese joint they’d been to the night before. When we arrived at said restaurant-of-the-moment, we were told we’d be waiting at least an hour for a table. I turned on my heels, and demanded directions to the Middle Eastern marvel.

Lebanese Talk of the Town is handily located in the centre of Elsternwick, just opposite Coles. There’s not really any other word for it than “homely”. I’m talking wood paneled walls, a dark timber buffet complete with family photos, and a welcome that makes you feel like you’d been expected. It’s run by a husband and wife team with a familiar manner that borders on cheeky.

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You can see what’s on offer when you arrive, a large refrigerated cabinet sits to your right, overflowing with salads and meat. You can look at the menu, or just ask them to feed you, which is what we did. There were three of us, so they made up three plates, each with a different protein, three salads, and two dips – of course with pita on the side.

So there was the plate with char-grilled chicken, and my two favourite salads of the night - super-fresh lima beans with celery, lemon, garlic and herbs, and a pile of fresh snowpeas with an avocado, garlic and herb dressing.

Accompanying the lamb backstrap was some obligatory tabbouli, a traditional salad of cucumber, tomato and peppers, and some gorgeous red cabbage with lemon and olive oil.

I wasn’t as excited about the final plate, too many times I’ve had average falafel, so it’s proved unlikely to impress – here, though, made from all fresh ingredients by hand, and cooked until it’s crispy on the outside and soft in the middle – it’s tasty as hell. Went beautifully with some a different cabbage salad, middle eastern style cous cous, and a fresh potato salad with mint and garlic.

It was far too much food, but that’s hardly anything to complain about – three of us ate our full for $70 all up.

Lebanese Talk of the Town is BYO, but there’s a bottle-o directly across the road if that slips your mind. Helps to make it a value-packed night.

Husband and wife Asmahan and Sammy have been at the helm here for 25 years, and it’s pretty obvious they’re onto a winning formula. Sammy boasts that he could have grown the business, but given he wants everyone to feel their at home, he’d hate to lose that familiarity and comfort in a bigger business. They’re happy laughing with their guests, and feeding them up good and proper.

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