Monday, October 20, 2014

Emma's on Liberty, Enmore

Miss Piggy and Dave dined as guests of Emma's Snack Bar. 

Fans of Emma's on Liberty would've had their hearts in their mouths earlier this year when the newspaper went up on the windows of the restaurant, the lights went out and they closed the place down. Never fear however as they restaurant has reopened as Emma's Snack Bar.


During the brief shutdown Emma got herself a new kitchen, a new look and a new direction, bringing a more casual vibe to your Lebanese dining experience. Owner and chef Anthony Sofy is still cooking delicious Lebanese food (so fans of the former incarnation needn't worry), just in a more simple, street food-esque kind of way these days. He tells that after operating Emma's on Liberty for 13 years it was time for a bit of a change of pace and to make things more simple.  This isn't really surprising to hear is it, given so many other restaurants are following the same path.



I have to confess that I never got myself to Emma's on Liberty so it's impossible for me to compare the old and the new. What I can tell you is that the food we had on our visit to Emma's Snack Bar is some of the best Lebanese I've had anywhere...ever...and I've already made a booking for a family dinner this week! Dave has plugged the address of Emma's in to his GPS so it's set to become a firm favourite with us.



We kick things off with a drink. Dave goes for a refreshing Lebanese Beer and I have a shot of Arak - a milky-looking spirit that tastes similar to Ouzo. I love it. I'm told that you are meant to sip Arak slowly and enjoy the flavour and coolness the ice imparts in the drink (I obviously look like a bogan skuller of tiny drinks)!



We ask Anthony to choose our dishes for us, although I do have just one request. Hummus with meat is something I hunt high and low for on every Lebanese menu I come across and I'm delighted beyond belief that they serve it at Emma's. I'm going to put it out there and say that this is THE BEST Hummus with meat I've very had. EVER! The meat is so deliciously charred, with just the right hint of spices like cumin to elevate the flavor of the lamb to something amazing. The hummus is really nutty and creamy. I basically forget eating this with the bread provided and just scoop the dip out of the bowl with my spoon.



I had read that when Emma's reopened the much-loved baba ganoush was no longer on the menu, much to the regular customers dismay. It wasn't long before it reappeared however and I have to say I can see why people were so upset that it was no longer on offer. Our baba ganoush had a wonderful smokey flavour - not overpowering, just enough to let you know that this is the real deal. A little dash of paprika and a handful of pickled turnips makes this a bit different to other versions of this dip that I've had before.


I've made fattoush salad at home myself (I know right, I cannot believe it either) and I'm really taken with the combination of fresh veggies with the crunch of crispy, fried bread. It's a good textural combination and the fried bread perks up what could otherwise just be a regular salad. Unlike other versions of fattoush that I've had Emma's offering does away with the flat bread and uses a thick, rusk like bread known as ka'ak. It's quite hard initially but softens up as it spends time in the bowl with the dressing and other salady items. I can detect of slight aniseed flavour - not sure where this comes from, but I like it!


What can I say about the Moorish Chicken other than Dave liked it so much that he ate all of his share plus most of mine! Outrageous! You've got to be quick around these parts folks. The chicken is tangy, moist and tender and comes wrapped in charred flat bread. Inside the flat bread the chicken sits on a bed of thinly sliced red onions and the dish is accompanied by little pot of potent garlic sauce. You all know the garlic sauce rule right? If one person eats it then everyone at your table has to too otherwise you risk killing each other with your garlic breath!


At the first taste of the fried cauliflower Dave declares that "Emma's has done for cauliflower what Porteno has done for the brussel sprout" (if you've been to Porteno and had the brussel sprouts then you'll know what I'm on about). He's right of course, dramatic, but right! The crispy florets are doused generously in a tangy tahnini sauce and scattered with parsley.



When presented with the bowl of fried potatoes we politely and sedately pick at them until we realize that perhaps the other person may have had one more potato cube than the other...and with something this tasty that is just not on. I wanted my fair share of these as they are GREAT (I'd already lost my share of Moorish Chicken so I was now keeping score)! The potato is wonderfully crunchy on the outside with pillowy soft innards. The whole lot is drizzled in garlic sauce and topped with a pinch of coriander. Honestly, so so SO good!



And last but not least is the shish kebab - tender pieces of lamb are skewered over cooked over the grill which gives them a wonderful, charred flavour. It's amazing how much flavour the lamb dishes here have - I think that's down to the quality of the produce used. I love pickled veggies and the little pile of pickled red cabbage is very welcome.


It's funny to me (well, more like sad really) that I drove past Emma's on Liberty regularly over the last decade or so and never really gave it a second thought. I'd often hear people saying how lovely the food was there but I had no idea what the place was about, nor that they served delicious Lebanese food. I feel like with the opening of Emma's Snack Bar I've been given a second chance to make up for lost (eating) time.


Emma's Snack Bar is at 59 Liberty Street, Enmore

Emma's on Liberty on Urbanspoon

23 comments:

  1. Is there really anything better than Hummus and Lebanese bread? I'm intrigued by the cauliflower now! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've eaten here many times but moved away from Enmore recently and didn't realise they'd changed to Emma's Snack Bar. The dishes you tried, however, look practically identical to the food they used to serve, albeit in more low-fi crockery/baskets.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm so sad I lived so close to the restaurant for 2.5 years and never tried it. To me the old fancier-dining incarnation was way more appealing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Mr C (www.theckdiary.net)October 20, 2014 at 9:34 PM

    Oh man I need some Lebanese food, thank god I live out west!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sara @ ZaharaDessertOctober 21, 2014 at 7:50 AM

    From what you say, the food is the same as the old place - so I am VERY happy about that. I can't wait to try this new Emma's when I am back in Sydney next year

    ReplyDelete
  6. I loved the old Emma's! What's the pricing of the Snack Bar like? I wonder whether it's on par with the old pricing.

    ReplyDelete
  7. there is so much good food in enmore, i love baba ganoush, keen to check out this place!

    ReplyDelete
  8. You can't go wrong with Lebanese food, and this looks like particularly scrumptious Lebanese food! Yum.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Helen (grabyourfork)October 23, 2014 at 2:49 PM

    Interesting to see Emma's has revamped itself into a more casual eatery. Went to Emma's a long time ago but will have to revisit, esp for the baba ghanoush and that fried cauliflower!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sara (Belly Rumbles)October 24, 2014 at 12:27 AM

    Emma's on Liberty has been on my to eat list for ages. Line has just gone through that and Emma's snack bar has taken its place.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Homous with lamb mince is THE BEST thing EVER!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I think a lot of the menu is similar...just in a more relaxed, casual environment.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I like this casual vibe, but as I never went to the old Emma's I can't say which I prefer.

    ReplyDelete
  14. It is. We had it again this week and it was even better than our first time!

    ReplyDelete
  15. LOL...westie pride yo! I think this is the best Lebanese I've had in Sydney...you should give it a try.

    ReplyDelete
  16. The food is wonderful...make sure you pay them a visit.

    ReplyDelete
  17. If you click on my second phone you'll see a great shot of the menu board with prices listed. I think it is quite reasonable. We ate on Wednesday night for $20pp for 6 of us and left VERY full.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Yes, Enmore is great...I feel like it's better than the north end of King Street these days (which was not the case when I lived in the area about 10 years ago).

    ReplyDelete
  19. Emma's really was delish. It's quickly become one of our favourite places to eat in Sydney.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I'll be interested to hear what you think of the new, more casual Emma's. The food was SO good!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I hope it's at the top of your list Sara!

    ReplyDelete
  22. That fried cauliflower had my eyes fixated :P
    This place looks awesome, gonna try it out in the holidays!


    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for leaving your comment!

You Might Also Like:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Free Blog Template by June Lily