Zayt & Zaatar, what a gorgeous place set along the busy Lower North East Road. As soon as you walk in, the ambience and setup of the restaurant is inviting and fresh, accompany that with the enthusiasm and welcoming nature of the staff and it makes for an extremely enjoyable experience. Zayt & Zaatar is a family owned and run business with the Head Chef being Imad, who takes extreme pride in what he serves up. Chef Imad, came out and spoke to us for a while, explaining his dishes, the way they’re cooked and the reasons behind these. He explained that he wanted to bring the real “homestyle” Lebanese cuisine to Adelaide, and all his dishes are actually family recipes passed down through generations. He also prides himself on the ideology that if he wouldn’t eat it, or serve it to his family, then he would not serve it in his restaurant, and it was clear to see that this kind of dedication to serving up the best, was very true.
We indulged in the Rolls-Royce Banquet which is suggested to be for a minimum of 4 people, and trust me, that is a correct estimate. There was an amazing array of foods brought out for us, and the food was beautifully presented and cooked.
Hummus (chickpea dip), I for one love dips and Hummus is one of my favourite, the Hummus gets a 5\5 from me, it was full of flavour, it was a beautiful creamy consistency paired with some whole chickpeas for some texture, you got hits of spices, herbs and citrus, it was wonderful.
Bubba Ghanouj (smokey eggplant dip) was also bursting with flavour, the initial bite you get hit with the strong smokey eggplant flavour and as you keep going you get a softer smokey flavour and start to taste the spices and herbs and a little bit of sweet, and finish off with almost a different flavour, it was a delightfully creamy texture aswell, making it a really beautiful dip.
Shankleesh (dried country style crumbed cheese, with onion, diced tomatoes and dressed with extra virgin olive oil), the texture of this dish is amazing, the cheese isn’t a strong flavour but more of a subtle cheese, it pairs fantastically with the other minimal ingredients in the dish, and the strong favour of the parsley really ties it all in.
Fatoosh (lebenese style salad with a mixture of vegetables and crispy fried flat bread, seasoned with sumac and olive oil), it was light, refreshing, yet still full of flavour, the fried flat bread gave the salad great dimension and texture and was overall really enjoyable.
Vine leaves (vine leaves stuffed with rice, tomato, onion, parsley, infused with olive oil and lemon juice), wonderful mix of textures, it was extremely well favoured with hints of spice but also the vine leaf itself, really enjoyable.
Kibby (combination of minced meat and cracked wheat ovals, stuffed with finely chopped lamb, onion, pine nuts and spices), these were delicious, the outside was really crisp whilst the meaty inside was soft and full of amazing yet subtle spicy flavours.
Sambousek (deep fried pastry pockets filled with minced lamb, roasted nuts, onion and spices), the pastry was very well cooked, and the meat inside was soft, the flavour and textural component of the pine nuts was fantastic, the pine nuts were very full flavoured which made for a unique taste which was extremely enjoyable.
Sambousek Vegetarian (deep fried pastry pockets filled with a three cheese mix and parsley), I highly recommend these delicious ‘pockets’, for someone who LOVES cheese (like me) but also loves pastry, this is a dream dish, the pastry was really well cooked, and the cheese mix was heavenly, the cheeses worked perfectly together along with the hints of parsley.
Sujuk (spiced gourmet sausage sauteed with diced tomatoes and spices), this dish was full of spicy flavours and and also incorporated a bit of heat with some chilli which gave it a really wonderful flavour, the sausage was a melt in your mouth texture and was overall a really nice dish.
Sawda (pan fried chicken liver in a lemon infusion with a hint of pomegranate molasses), I know… liver? It can be a daunting thing for some people to think about eating chicken liver, but the way this liver was cooked made it actually really nice, the harsh gamey flavour of the liver was actually barley there and the flavour was actually quite nice, the texture and flavour almost reminded me of smoked oysters. I really recommend trying this dish if you’re game !
Makanek (Sauteed traditional mini sausage with pomegranate molasses and lemon juice), there were really strong lemon and molasses flavours in this dish which was actually a really nice combination, along with the amazing subtle spice flavours from the sausage, it made for a really enjoyable eat.
Charcoal Chicken (marinated half chicken served with hummus, tabouli, garlic paste and bread), if you like a strong charcoal flavour then this is the dish for you, the chicken was nicely charcoaled and really encompassed the charcoal flavour with subtle hints of spice and herb, it was delicious with a bit of hummus on top as well, overall a really nice chicken dish.
Mixed Skewer Platter (laham, tawook, kafta skewers served with roasted onions, tomatoes, hummus, fattoush, chips, garlic paste and hot Lebanese bread), the mixed skewers were beautiful, there was chicken, lamb and kafta. The chicken was really well cooked and seasoned and moist. The lamb was perfectly cooked, still being pink in the centre and had wonderful subtle herb flavours and paired amazingly with the garlic paste, that may i add was the perfect garlic flavour (not too much, not too little), and was a wonderful smooth consistency. The Kafta was amazing, so full of flavour, with the mix of herbs and spices and was fantastically cooked, the meat still being soft, it also paired amazingly with the hummus and was really enjoyable to eat.
Overall, the experience at Zayt & Zaatar was fantastic, the food, the staff and the people running it really make it great. If you’re looking for some homestyle Lebanese food then look no further, every dish is bursting with flavour and these guys really know what they’re doing and you’re sure to enjoy anything you order. The family that runs it, really take pride in what they’re doing and make sure your experience is a fantastic one.
Words by Kiara Peressin
WHERE: 603 Lower North East Rd, Campbelltown