This gleaming glass box in Walsh Bay has largely escaped my notice because it’s tucked just around the corner from busy Hickson Road on Towns Place. The immediate advantage of this is a good supply of parking right out front. Upon entering, it’s apparent that this is a cut above the usual Cleveland Street eateries, shrouded in dusty carpet and humming with traditional tunes. And white tablecloths, comfortable leather chairs and a minimal ambient soundtrack are just the beginning. You’ll also find cocktails and a credible wine list. While the 2010 Denis Pommier Chablis ($85/bottle) is priced on the upper edge, its fruit-driven, dry style is perfect for the cuisine. Now I categorise all Lebanese restaurants into Homous ($11) or Baba Ganouje ($11), dependent upon which dip they do better. While the chickpeas here definitely outdo the smoky eggplant, it’s actually the yoghurt or Labne ($9) that got me enthused. Ordering the Combination Banquet ($62/head) gives you the chance to make up your own mind, delivering all three plus a hefty array of salad, seafood, poultry and meat, cleverly spread across three waves. The star of the show is the chicken Shish Tawouk ($30), which goes down well with 961 Pale Ale ($10). This craft beer is infused with sumac, anise and mint, giving it a distinctive Lebanese edge.
7 Towns Place, Walsh Bay
Ph: (02) 9633 1611 el-phoenician.com.au