In Karangahape Road’s St Kevins Arcade, Gemmayze Street is a beloved Lebanese restaurant that sits alongside some of the city’s best venues.
Flanked by live music haven Whammy Bar, pasta favourite Pici and daytime go-to Bestie Cafe, Gemmayze Street sprawls across the far end of the arcade, framed by huge bay windows overlooking Myers Park. Open five nights a week, the restaurant has an intimate enclosed area that peeks into the kitchen, or you can embrace the buzz of being in the arcade.
Gemmayze Street was founded by chef Samir Allen in 2016. His Lebanese heritage and inclusive family dining experiences have informed the welcoming vibe and generous, flavourful dishes. He also has a fine dining background, evident in finessed techniques and beautiful presentation.
Order from the mezze menu or, for groups of more than six, you can opt for the “jeeb” feast. Dishes such as hummus, baba ganoush and falafel might be familiar, but Gemmayze’s version will likely outdo any you’ve tried before – the ultra-smooth hummus has a following of its own.
You might also order kibbeh nayeh – venison tartare with preserved lemon, red pepper and quinoa – or shish taouk with grilled chicken thighs, toum, fermented chilli and red onion. There’s “nana’s” kibbeh, made with lamb, burghul wheat, garlic yoghurt and pickles, and an abundance of vegetable dishes make Gemmayze a sure bet for vegetarian and vegan eaters, too.
The concise drinks menu includes local Hallertau beers and cider, and a mixture of New Zealand and Lebanese wines. House cocktails put a spin on classics, like the Saffron Negroni with lemon gin, saffron vermouth and Campari.
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