The first thing you’ll notice about El Karim restaurant in Roseville, Sydney, Australia, is the tantalizing scents. Lebanese aromas of hommos, falafel and grilled eggplant waft through the air, beckoning visitors in to the restaurant that is wall-to-wall packed with people on weekend nights. The cozy eatery has a convivial vibe, with lots of happy chatter amid the delicious smells.
There’s also some sparse patio seating, as well as a little bar area near the entrance. Make a reservation on weekend nights to get a seat right away. When I went there a couple weeks ago, it was only about a 10-minute wait, but I watched as parties continuously walked in all night to get their fix of the tasty offerings this restaurant features.
It was easy to see why this restaurant, which underwent renovations this year, has been going strong since 1976. I was greeted immediately by owner/chef Fadi Constantine, from Beirut, who had a giant smile and mingled with tables throughout the space. The BYO menu (you can bring wine only) is full of dozens of shared plate entrées and larger mains, and I’d recommend ordering a bunch of smaller plates to try for the whole table. I could get a whole new order next time I go — everything I had was delicious, and there were so many more mouthwatering dishes I can’t wait to try next time.
I started with the hommos ($7 AUD), which came with a thick stack of pita bread and was the perfect thick and creamy consistency. The bread was soft, not soggy, and the starter was really filling.
The falafel ($12) was another classic and stellar choice, drizzled with tahini and served with pickles. The patties were thick and moist. I loved the generous topping, and everything went well together.
Haloumi is always a must-have in Australia, so I was delighted there was a haloumi dish that came with another one of my faves, kalamata olives ($14). Wrap the haloumi in pita, and it’s heavenly, or eat it on your own, which I loved.
An order of batata kezbarah ($12), diced potatoes with spices, lemon and garlic, perfectly rounded out the meal. The dish was filling, and I loved the Lebanese spices that covered the potatoes.
Pair your meal with a speciality cocktail, beer, cider or glass of wine — again, there are dozens to choose from. Besides the menu that was a knockout with everything that was ordered, the service was swift, attentive and friendly. You really feel valued and at home in the restaurant, which made for such a fantastic experience.
Learn more about El Karim in Roseville, Sydney, Australia here.