Al Aseel, Newtown

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Al Aseel is a Lebanese res­tu­ar­ant that we’d been to many years ago dur­ing the lat­ter years of uni­ver­sity. I’d been crav­ing baba ghan­ouj for the longest time, so it was high time to return. 

At around mid­day, the res­tu­ar­ant itself is rather quiet, but there were a few people work­ing nearby who popped in for takeaway. I ima­gine they’d be much busier in the evening.

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I order the Fresh Lemonade ($7). I was expect­ing a lem­ony drink, but was pleas­antly sur­prised to receive some­thing more of a limeade with lime zest. It’s very refresh­ing and cuts through the heav­i­ness of some of the food.

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This is the Baba Ghanouj ($13), a dip made of ‘smoky char grilled egg­plant, blen­ded with tahini, lem­on juice topped with extra vir­gin olive oil’. This dish is rather spe­cial: it’s one of the very few ways that I like to eat egg­plant, and the main reas­on N and I chose to eat at Al Aseel. It’s served with pita bread, and I could eas­ily eat noth­ing but pita bread dipped in baba ghan­ouj as a meal — the smoki­ness of the char grilled egg­plant is delicious!

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But we couldn’t just eat dip, though, so we expan­ded our choice of dishes to the Falafel ($10), ‘deep fried chick peas cro­quettes, mixed with al aseel herbs & spices served with tahini sauce’. I’m not too sure how I feel about the pri­cing of this dish — indi­vidu­al falafel are $1.50 each, but a plate of falafel is $10. But there’s only four falafel on the plate, where­as there needs to be at least sev­en on each plate (if you con­sider that the price of things gen­er­ally decrease when you buy more than one).

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These falafel were beau­ti­fully crispy and golden on the out­side. They were drier than I remembered them to be on the inside, but non­ethe­less fla­vour­ful. Adequate season­ing for falafel is man­dat­ory — chick peas are not some­thing I like eat­ing on its own! For the price though, we’ll order them indi­vidu­ally next time.

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And the Fatteh ($12), ‘chick peas, crispy bread topped with yoghurt, melted but­ter, roas­ted pine nuts’. I’m not to sure what N and I were expect­ing, but at the very least, it wasn’t some­thing in a bowl. Anyway! This is a very rich and creamy dish — there’s yoghurt and melted but­ter. The intense cream­i­ness of the dish makes it hard to eat much before feel­ing full. N found the accom­pa­ny­ing pickles to go some way to cut­ting through the cream­i­ness, while I used pita bread (eat­ing a bread dish with more bread!). This isn’t likely to a dish that brings us back, unlike the baba ghanouj.

Al Aseel is at 189 Missenden Road, Newtown NSW 2042.