Although not far from Enmore Road, Emma’s Snack Bar sits alone among houses on the border of Enmore and Stanmore. It’s for that reason, perhaps, that locals feel a strong attachment to the restaurant formerly known as Emma’s on Liberty – which was a charming (if slightly cramped) Lebanese restaurant. When it closed earlier this year there was a ripple of nervousness among loyal diners. But now that it has reopened, its transformation into Emma’s Snack Bar has been welcomed.
“We were due for a renovation anyway,” says owner Anthony Sofy. “I just decided at the same time to make it a little more casual. The changeable menu board gives us more flexibility.” The formal menu of the past is gone and the new menu offers Lebanese street food; the kind of dishes the family cooks at home. “I wanted to show people the dishes we take for granted – combinations you wouldn’t usually think of eating yourself,” says Sofy. Examples are fish with fattoush and egg and lamb kebab – a breakfast dish. For his Lebanese customers, there are traditional dishes he does by request – kibbeh nayeh: a raw, minced-lamb dish and sambusak: half-moon pastries with minced meat.
The smoky baba ghanoush was taken off the menu but the requests came in thick and strong, and Sofy had to put it back on, along with the famous Moorish chicken, marinated and served with red onion and creamy garlic sauce. Bring a bottle of red along, or choose a theme-based wine (from floral and friendly to big and heartwarming), beer, pear cider or arak (a Levantine spirit of aniseed persuasion). “There’s more personality to it now,” Sofy says. We were doing what people expected us to do, now, this is us – there’s nothing pretentious about it.”