The food is tasty and really satisfying. Yes the space does still have a thin veneer of wannabe-ism, complete with touches of old hat Real World tribalism ... I'm betting that the owners own every single volume of those once ubiquitous Buddha Bar compiles.
But at least you don't feel cramped. And on a summer's evening, soundtracked by mellifluous acid jazz, its Juan Padilla at Cafe del Mar all over again. The menu follows a similar world view path with a nod to middle eastern cuisine.
We started with an entree of the Jawaneh Meshwi ($10) - 5 pieces of grilled marinated chicken wings with garlic and lemon. These were grilled to perfection with just the right citrusy hit without being too overpoweringly tart. Very moreish and a great bar snack.
M had the Spiced Lamb Pizza ($16) - with red onion, feta, roasted pine-nuts, red chilli, dressed with mint yoghurt on a zaatar base. There was perhaps too heavy a preponderance of the yoghurt sauce for my liking so I reckon a few sultanas would not have gone astray to cut the richness. I know!!! I'm the one who has a T-shirt that says "Stupid Raisins Stay Out Of My Cookie!" Still fair dos!
I had the Kraidis B'Toum ($19) - Pan-fried Prawns in a garlic and lemon sauce with fresh herbs served on Basmati rice. So the plating is fairly prosaic, almost plonked! But I'm not really one for fancy plating ... in fact I am a little bit over the drizzle, smear, foam, gel crowd! The dish had solid flavours with the Prawns cooked just so and an almost perfect balance of lemon and garlic.
I'm looking forward to working my way through the menu. A real new-old contender in what is slowly becoming a rather overcrowded food and entertainment district. Lets just enjoy it while we can before the franchisees move in.