Do you have a list of restaurants you’ve wanted to go to for a long time but for some reason or another you haven’t? My wish list is a mile long but there are some restaurants that never seem to make it to the top. That list includes the likes of Ms G’s, Ryo’s Noodles, Rosso Pomodoro, The Boathouse on Blackwattle Bay and Kazbah. These guys have been around for a long time and I’ve always wanted to check them out but they’re all slightly out of the way and remain on that never-ending wish list.
Then our good friends Felicity and Jason suggested a brunch catch up to discuss our impending New York trip. The suggestion: Kazbah. That was that. Dylan and I would head out to Balmain on Saturday morning and finally have the chance to see what Kazbah was all about.
Kazbah Balmain is the flagship restaurant of Zahi Azzi and his wife Penny. Opened in 1998 as ‘Kazbah On Darling’ the restaurant has received a number of accolades over the years. With business doing well the team have opened venues in Top Ryde and Darling Harbour, with Potts Point and Bondi also due to open later this year. Oh and did I mention the Kazbah empire is expanding across the seas? According to Short Black Zahi has just signed a ten year licensing deal with a company in Hong Kong.
Breakfast tagine – Lamb mince tagine, sucuk, spinach, roast capsicum, roast tomato, caramelised onion, feta, eggs – served with Turkish toast and Lebanese bread ($22.50).
A shout out on Twitter told me this: I must have the breakfast tagine. And the pancakes. But the wise world of Twitter also told me portion sizes are huge and I certainly would not be able to have both in one sitting. Although I love pancakes the tagine won over this time around.
The distinctive smell of lamb combined with the heady aroma of spices was the first thing to hit the table. Served in a cast iron pan on a wooden board not only did the tagine smell incredible but it also looked great. A few quick photos and then I dug straight in, slightly burning myself (impatience is a killer!) Cumin was on the heavier side but the roasted vegies and nicely cooked eggs rounded it out well. The Turkish bread was best used to mop up all the sauce – yum!
Chickpea Fritters, Pork Belly Shish Kebab, Crème Fraîche, Baby Spinach, Roast Tomato, Poached Egg, Capsicum Sauce ($22.00).
It took Dylan a while to decide what to get and in the end he did what he does best – order something left of field (for him). Chickpea fritters was probably the last thing I would have guessed he would choose but a great choice it was. The fritters were simply gorgeous (I’m a little obsessed with chickpeas at the moment – fritters, falafel, hummus – you name it, I’m loving it). Dylan felt the fritters may have been improved with more seasoning but he said he was just nit-picking. The eggs were poached well and the sauce was ok but too thin to really make a statement.
Chocolate & Raspberry Pancake, Butterscotch Sauce, Chocolate Fudge Ice Cream ($18.00).
Seasoned Kazbah diner Jason knew exactly what he was ordering from the get go – pancakes. As soon as his plate arrived I could see why everyone loves Kazbah’s pancakes. It’s a pan-cake, literally. A cake cooked in a pan. Oh I had food envy and although I was loving my tagine I was thrilled to be able to try some of the pancake. Fluffy cake with a caramelised base, gooey sauce and two scoops of rich chocolate ice cream; it was heavenly. Next time around I might have to have a pancake all to myself.
Turkish coffee ($4.50).
I’ve heard Turkish coffee can be rather polarising as it’s so different to what we’re familiar with in Australia. But I like different and simply had to try it. Turkish coffee is a method of preparing coffee in the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe. Coffee beans are roasted in a Turkish coffee mill, added to a copper pot, boiled three times (commonly with sugar) and served.
Turkish coffee is served extremely hot and very dark – almost black. Unsure what to expect I took a small sip, then slowly but surely took larger and larger sips. I found Turkish style coffee to be rather strong and definitely something that requires sugar to be added, but overall it was quite enjoyable.
From the moment we entered until the moment we left Kazbah was bustling. The food was delicious and portion sizes more than generous. It’s easy to see why so many flock to Kazbah and we will definitely be back soon to try out more of the menu.
379 Darling Street
Balmain NSW 2041
(02) 9555 7067