El Phoenician

Mothers Day had arrived and there's no other way to celebrate family than a big Mediterranean feast.
El Phonician is a popular Lebanese restaurant along Eat Street in Parramatta. The restaurant is clean with simple table settings and decor, allowing the food to be the colour and celebration. 

The restaurant was absolutely packed for Mothers Day so booking is a must.
There were a number of banquets available for Mothers Day, each ranging in different styles and choices. We chose the El-Phoenician Banquet for our lunch. 

Deep fried and fresh lebanese bread
As soon as we were seated, we were served fresh and deep fried Lebanese bread. Although indulgent, I'm not a fan of deep fried Lebanese bread. I find the consistency hard, oily, flavourless and it doesn't really compliment the dips very well.
Fresh Lebanese bread however is always welcome. The soft bread made for an excellent base for all the food to come.

Feta & Mixed Marinated Pickles, Baba Ganoush 
The feta was deliciously salty and was a good combination with the olives and pickles.
The baba ganoush was definitely genuine and had that distinct rich eggplant flavour throughout.
Tabouli, Hummus, Labneh
The tabbouli had a nice lemon kick that really complimented the hummus parcelled together. The hummus was creamy and smooth without losing the chickpea flavour. It was definitely my favourite dip; perfect on its own or paired with pickle.
I felt that the labneh was good but lacked a little bit of a kick, it was definitely smooth and creamy but seemed to just lack a little in flavour.

Chickpea croquettes, cauliflower and Lamb pastries

We continued our banquet with a platter of fried cauliflower, chickpea croquettes - delicious enough to turn anyone vegetarian for the afternoon, as well as lamb pastries. The croquettes and cauliflower were packed with flavour and cooked to crunch, served with a garlic sauce to compliment it all. 
The lamb pastries were the star on this platter! The little parcels were flakey and crunchy and filled with juicy lamb mix that burst in your mouth.
I could've just had a whole platter of those for lunch. 

Lamb and Chicken Skewers with Coriander Potatoes 
A huge pile of skewers and potatoes hit our table bringing a wonderful aroma of marinades and coriander along.
The chicken skewers were juicy and tender with a nice char all around. The lemon marinade soaked all the way through so no piece was bland. The lamb was also well marinated but I found it a little uneven as some pieces were a little tough and others were tender.
At first the skewers didn't seem like much but along with the potatoes and the dip the overall combination is quite filling

Overall, our dining experience with El Phoenician was hit and miss. Prior to making the booking, we asked if there would be a set menu (as many restaurants do on big occasions such as Mothers Day), as we were specifically trying to avoid a set menu. We were informed that there was a set menu but we would still be welcome to order from the a la carte menu. When we arrived, we saw this was not the case. 
The restaurant itself is beautiful but awfully tight as the restaurant packed as many tables as possible, consequently making the space difficult for pram access - or any access for that matter!. The small space made it challenging for both patrons and waitstaff to pass through with ease and the hold up of traffic and ill placed seating made for a tense atmosphere at times. It was a little uncomfortable to feel and hear conversation from the next table and occasionally bump into them as you slide out of your chair.

Although the food was nice, the space in the restaurant could be reconsidered. It may have been because it was Mothers Day but the restaurant seemed to be completely frantic and the waitstaff were stressed beyond belief. 
Our dining experience was okay - the food was delicious albeit a little expensive but the ambience of the restaurant was unpleasant. By all means go fod the food but I'm not compelled to come back again. 

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