What do you picture in your mind when you think of Lebanese food? As an Aussie who grew up on the Northern Beaches I think of the heroes who fed me drunk kebabs when I was pissed as a newt. When I grew up a little more it was baba ghanoush, tabouli and belly dancers. Now that I am basically middle aged and waiting on my sport’s car mid-life crisis the wonderful folks at NOUR have introduced me to Lebanese fusion that is some of the best food I have eaten in 2017. NOUR will finish the year as one of my favourite restaurants.
Nour means “light” in Arabic and this Crown St restaurant shines a light on elegance, design and food to blow your mind. The venue is large with a bar at the entry where you can grab a drink and/or sit to dine, perfect for singles and people watchers. There are lots of tables in a row with bench seating on one side that lead to the back of the venue where there is more traditional dining tables.
On the way to he back you pass a wood fired oven (and one incredibly gorgeous wood fire oven cook) and then the completely open kitchen. To the right of the back dining area is a private dining room that is as stunning as the rest of the venue. Both the main room and the private dining room open out onto a back green leaf strewn courtyard I have to see opened in Summer.
The venue, while Lebanese, has a feel more accustomed to Nordic in design and if you’ve been watching The Block this year the venue also encompasses modern hygge (pronounced hooga) styling. With modern pine finishes, salmons, pale pinks and the odd purple it’s pastel meets nordic. Hygge is the Danish ritual of enjoying life’s simplest pleasures in the cosy company of friends and family. Nour embraces this thanks to the wonderfully designed interior from DS17.
RE-INVENTING LEBANESE CUISINE:
While the venue doesn’t look anything like a generic Lebanese venue don’t expect anything generic about the food either. I would go as far as calling it a new cuisine influenced from Lebanon. The buzz word “fusion” would probably cover it. There is pretty much nothing traditional on the menu but there is a fattoush salad listed that I did not see. The menu is designed for sharing but the entrees are quite small so order quite a few of them. The mains are HUGE so definitely share them.
Take a leap outside of the box while your eyes flirt with our beautiful, contemporary interior and your senses are set alight. You think you know Lebanese food but we want to show you the surface is yet to be scratched and there is so much more to offer.
Executive Chef Roy Ner has created a marvellous fresh and playful menu and has banned baba ghanoush and tabbouleh at Nour. Traditionalists will die on the spot at his adultery to a 3000yr old culture’s food but foodies will foodgasm on the spot. While no baba ghanoush you can enjoy a baby prawn falafel or a camel sambusak and Lebanese bombe alaska will impress so make sure you save room!!
WHAT WE ATE:
- Wood Fired Olive with Smoked Almonds
- Blue Swimmer Crab and Watermelon Mint Salad
- Old City Mix – Chicken Bits, Target Radish on Pan Fried Pastry
- Wood-fired Honey Figs served up with Date Challah, Halloumi and Black Garlic
- Crispy Gratin Potatoes with Smoked Garlic, Coriander and Chilli
- Wood Roast Spiced Short Rib with Roast Carrots, Nigella Seeds and Toum Béarnaise
- Lebanese Bombe Alaska
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
Nour kicked it off with a divine drink list to whet our appetite while we perused the menu. We only had a drink each and I am pissed with myself for not trying their top notch cocktails that friends have raved about. We tried two different types of Lebanese red wine and my guest was new to wine and found the reds too heavy so some lucky bugger got two glasses, I loved them both.
As for the food, it was flawless. Commencing with their incredible wood fired olives and smoked almonds had me hooked immediately. The combination was perfect and those almonds covered in Za’atar was so moorish.
Next up was the Blue Swimmer Crab and Watermelon Mint Salad – just superb (currently off the menu). It is incredibly light and fresh with the watermelon compacted into the small jelly like wedge you see in the pic. There is quite a bit going on for that plate but you won’t regret it when it creates a tongue symphony. The Old City Mix would be the closest to traditional food we ate. It was fun and tasty and was a great hands-on dish. The Crispy Gratin fires were a wonderful change on the carb side. These delish morsels were cooked in smoked garlic, coriander and chilli.
MUST EAT DISHES:
Wood-fired Honey Figs served up with Date Challah, Halloumi and Black Garlic was definitely the table favourite. If visiting this is a MUST eat dish. There aren’t enough superlatives to shower on this dish. One of my favourite things eaten this year. Another of my favourite dishes of the year goes to the Wood Roast Spiced Short Rib. It was simply put…PERFECT. It fell off the bone like meat butter and the spiced herbs had it tasting insane. And just look at how sexy it is!! Being seduced by a meal is a real thing!
Finally we force-fed dessert into our gobs. The Lebanese Bombe Alaska was such a unique take on this dessert, being inspired by a fruit cocktail. The base was a crunchy kataifi pastry, with orange blossom, cherry sorbet, avocado ice cream and torched marshmallow. The perfect end to our meal although I would not have complained with some of their dessert wines!
NOUR is a refreshing and ingenious take on a 3000yr old culture’s cuisine. The flavours and textures were enough for me to fall in food love. Do not visit if you want belly dancers and a 2am post-pub kebab but run towards them if you want your culinary world rocked!
SCORE BREAKDOWN: 3/3 food, 2/2 service, 1/1 drinks, 1/1 venue & ambience, 1/1 cost, 1/1 toilets and 1/1 bonus
PH: (02) 9331 3413
Shop 3, 490 Crown Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010
BOOKINGS: Not Essential
HOURS: Tue 5 – 10pm, Wed – Sat 12pm – 12am
BAR: Fully licensed
TAKEAWAY: Check with venue
LOCAL DELIVERY: Check with venue
VEGETARIAN OPTIONS: Yes
GLUTEN FREE OPTIONS: Yes
KID FRIENDLY: 50/50 – it’s quite fancy
*** JK (and any guests of Spooning Australia) were invited guests of the establishment and/or any PR agencies representing them. However, as always, if it was shite I would happily tell you as such ***