There are three types of woodfired manoushe (Lebanese breakfast pizza) made with stretched curds – an elastic mozzarella of sorts. The knafeh string-pastry dessert also comes with two types of pliable cheese resting in a rose and orange blossom syrup and with a scoop of cold cardamom ice-cream on top. Delicious.
But the thing I think about often while I eat my bowl of muesli at my desk each weekday morning (sigh) – is the Baalbek fried eggs.
The base of this remarkable dish is the generously sized saj flatbread, which gets its name because it’s baked on a domed or convex metal griddle of the same name. Three eggs are cracked in a little well created by bunching up the bread so it looks like a ruff-collar worn by those crazy cat Tudors.
Under the soft-yolked eggs there’s a good dollop of tahini yoghurt to give the dish a slightly sour kick. Scattered over the lovely mess is the rich lamb awarma (it’s prepared in a similar way as confit, cooked in oil at a very low heat), which offsets this perfectly. This is when the good times start.
To eat it you need to tear off a piece of the saj and scoop up a well-balanced creamy mouthful: a little runny egg, some rich minced lamb and a little bit of that tart yoghurt. Cloves and allspice are in there too, which gives the dish a delightful hint of sweetness.
“We really want people to get their hands dirty,” says executive chef Ben Williamson, who just joined the restaurant after leaving lauded Brisbane Middle Eastern fine diner Gerard’s Bistro.
And you do. Yolk runs down your wrist, yoghurt gets all over your face. This is definitely a three-napkin affair.
And sure, I could be writing about the falafel-flavoured crumpet (it’s so good – it’s fried so it tastes, and smells, like one of the best Easter Show snacks you’ve ever eaten). But the Baalbek (also a town in Lebanon, 85 kilometres north-east of Beirut) fried eggs gets added points because it’s more interactive and each tear of the saj and the jumble of ingredients offers the promise of the perfect bite. And isn’t life about trying to create the perfect bite?
This article first appeared on Broadsheet on July 18, 2019. Menu items may have changed since publication.