Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It’s all good at Sabbaba

Those all-too-rare moments when all is good in the world – why can’t they happen more often? It was a cruisey Sunday with a nice bit of sunshine followed by a cruisey early evening.

All was good in at least my bubble and rather than to tempt fate into the kitchen, we headed out to Newtown for a casual dinner care of a Jump on It voucher.

One of the many wall murals inside Sabbaba, King Street, Newtown
I often pass Sabbaba in Newtown while in transit; its bright yellow signage standing out from the hustle of King Street. From the street it looks lively and vibrant, and on this Sunday evening, they were handing out samples of their popular falafels to passersby.

Graffiti portrait art lines the walls where diners sit in to dine, while Sabbaba also does a busy takeaway trade as Jack Johnson casually strums away in the background. Some also just walk in for a piece of two of baklava which is made onsite.

‘How to Sabbaba’ is explained to us, and it’s a new experience for me. Select your meal to be served in a pita pocket, plate or bowl, and then select a filling to go with an array of dips and/or salads.

Little Creatures Pale Ale and Original Pilsner
Our voucher included a beer or glass of wine; the former option quite posh with Corona, Pure Blonde or two brews of Little Creatures. We opt for the latter two, a clean and refreshing Pilsner, and a sweet and fruity Pale Ale.

(A bit of beer trivia: the Pale Ale has 5.2% alcohol content while the Original Pilsner has 4.6%; I never would have guessed by taste.)

Cutlery holder and menu on the tables
Within only minutes of ordering at the counter, our meals are brought over looking very large and every bit as vibrant as the restaurant itself.

I was informed that the pita pocket was the lighter feed, the plate the biggest while the bowl was salad-heavy – something for everyone and every occasion it seems.

Bowl with crumbed fish
I offset my healthy salad bowl with a crumbed fish filling – the fish of the day being barramundi. The crumb outer is fried to a dark tone, zingy with lemon and herbs, but the thin slice of fish inside is still silky smooth.

Pita bread
The bowl includes one dip of tahini, one halved pita bread and an abundance of salad: mixed leaves, shredded red cabbage, a village salad of diced tomato and cucumber, tasty chickpeas, salty pickles and super-fresh tabouli.

It may well have been the largest bowl of salad I’ve ever eaten and also probably the healthiest main meal (fried fish aside) ever. The chickpeas and tabouli were the favourites although the cabbage was also surprisingly flavourful.

Dips from the plate
The plate included all the same salads except the mixed leaves, and mostly smaller servings. This was made up for by an extra pita bread (making four halves!) and other dips of hummous, babaganoush and a fiery red salsa that stood out in a sea of beige dips.

Plate with lamb shish
This plate had the lamb shish filling; cubes of could-be-more-tender lamb in a mild spice seasoning. The meat wasn’t dry, especially when dunked into one or more of the dips, but the slight chewiness made it a little bit of hard work.

And if the giant plates and bowls weren’t enough, dessert followed as part of our voucher. Sabbaba has a surprisingly large variety of desserts, from a tonne of different rum balls to Turkish delight to cookies – but there was no going past the baklava, especially as we were sitting right next to the syrupy pastry-laden cabinet.

Tulip baklava (left) and log baklava (right)
The most popular is the log baklava, we’re told, though I have a thing for the shape of the tulip ones. The baklava are made fresh on premises while some of the other nutty slices and the pistachio nest are bought in.

My tulip baklava is perfection. I bite from the crispy, syrup-doused, layered corners of filo pastry and am rewarded with an immediate sugar hit, a touch of natural saltiness from the nuts and instant happiness. The centre is crumbly and I make sure to pick up every last bit of falling filling – with the sticky bottom of the baklava.

The main dine-in area
Dinner at Sabbaba was fun and new, and it was a great venue to freshen up Middle Eastern cuisine and my own dining-out experiences. I’m keen to try the chicken shawarma and lamb or beef kofte next time, maybe in a pita pocket, just to change things up. However it’s served up, I'm sure it’s all good.

Sabbaba Newtown on Urbanspoon

19 comments:

Dumpling Girl said...

I love a good baklava, but the rest of the food looks fantastic too. Will definitely consider this place next time when I am in the mood for Middle Eastern cuisine.

chocolatesuze said...

mmm baklava i want instant happiness!

Zina @ tastedbytwo said...

Did you try the falafels? I'm obsessed with them!

Christy said...

The food looks gorgeous!!~ I am sure you had a great time :D

lateraleating said...

The minute I saw they had Little Creatures I knew it was a great eatery. We were a big group and apparently didn't order enough food, but it was nice.

Lucy @ Lucy eats said...

The food look so pretty and vibrant although I'm not sure how I'd feel about eating right next to a giant face..

Richard Elliot said...

The food and art work both look funky.

One of the things I miss about Europe is the relative abundance of Middle Eastern eateries. I'll try and remember to check this place out when I am next in Newtown.

thang @ noodlies said...

Liking the look and the food pics for this place. Nice and handy location too.

joey@FoodiePop said...

I hope to try this place when I'm next in Newtown as well.

jenius said...

Cool, looks like this place is worth trying!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I should really make use of those dining vouchers-they sound like a great deal! I usually use them for spa and beauty treatments but it sounds like the food deals are good.

Tina said...

Hi Dumpling Girl - The baklava is definitely an attraction :)

Hi Suze - They have at Westfield too ;)

Hi Zina - I may have had a sample or two... ;)

Hi Christy - I did, it's quite the fun, casual place.

Hi lateraleating - The bowl (for 1) is huge!

Hi Lucy - There's actually 4 or five portraits in the Newtwon store :)

Hi Richard - Definitely funky; do check it out :)

Hi thang - Yeah, something different on King St too

Hi joey - They also have Bondi stores, one in Westfield Sydney and one to open soon in Darlinghurst, I think.

Hi Jen - Sure is!

Hi Lorraine - I'm the opposite! I get all the food/restaurant ones :)

Ellie (Almost Bourdain) said...

I haven't been to newtown for a while. Nice place to check it out.

Travel Guide said...

Craving foods with some beers, awesome. Bowl with crumbed fish, yummy..

Tina said...

Hi Ellie - So many places, but a nice new place to check out :)

Hi Travel Guide - Yeah, the food was surprisingly good with beer :)

Gianna@TheEmptyFridge said...

Drove past this newtown branch today, and I'm quite excited about trying more of their dishes ( I tasted a sample of their felafel from the Westfield Pitt st branch earlier )

It looks like such a fun place without the guilt.. Because a few baklavas won't hurt!

Tina said...

Hi Gianna - It is very fun, especially when you end with a few baklava!

Petra (Adventurous me, gluten free) said...

I must try this place! So close to my house... so many places to try!

Tina said...

Hi Petra - Definitely a good option for a quick, casual meal :) with GF choices too!

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