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SAFI MIDDLE EASTERN DINING

Cuisine: Lebanese

It’s a not-so-Middle-Eastern-looking interior, with cool, clean lines and only a smattering of artefacts from the homeland to give it context, but the menu is direct from Beirut. The size of the banquets ($25 at lunch, $35 at dinner) is inversely proportional to the restaurant’s smallish space, with the evening feast rolling out no fewer than 14 mezze (relish the dips, cauliflower, potato kibbeh and olive pastry), plus sweets and traditional Arabic coffee. A specialty is muhammara dip, a spicy blend of walnuts, capsicum and chilli $11.50, perfect for bread mopping. Mixed platters $16 are popular at lunchtime, with dips, falafels, vine leaves, shish tanoak (tender chicken kebabs) with garlic sauce and kefta (minced lamb) kebab, but you could get away with a lemony spinach pocket $11 and still get that hit of authenticity.

 

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THAI PRASERT

Cuisine: Lebanese,Thai

Prasert means “excellent” in Thai, a pretty good assessment of the food at this local eatery that was once home to Thai Prasit. A satay chicken entree $13.50 is certainly better than most we’ve had and punsep, steamed barramundi and ginger dumplings $13.50, is a light and refreshing way to start. Green chicken curry with citrusy baby eggplant $24.50 is a revelation; ditto the salad of crispy barramundi fillets, green mango and peanuts $25.50. Other salads are also impressive: banana flower with chicken, chilli jam and coconut milk $24.50 is sweet and crunchy. The dessert choice is a no-brainer: semi-dried longan with Frangelico sticky rice and coconut icecream $10. Dine during happy hour (Mon–Fri 5.30pm–8pm) for a 15 per cent discount.

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