Food review: Rabbath

2 The Esplanade, Burleigh Heads Ph: 07 5535 4141

You know when you’ve reached a place of the heart. There’s an intimacy that reminds you of velvet – soft to the touch, the coolness of loss felt as we move away. It’s this mixture of emotions I feel looking back on a night’s dining experience at Rabbath.

Owned by Patrick and Pascal Rabbath, and named in honour of their family, this tiny eatery brings us a taste of Lebanon. Through the family’s hospitality, cuisine and conversation, with each dish artfully explained as we progress from course to course, we are guided along a bespoke food journey.

The brothers, engineers by profession, present their restaurant as a tribute to their parents. They are renowned for the authenticity of their food and the attention to detail of their food preparation, bringing Lebanese food to a new audience.

Seating only 22 people, we’re fortunate to be seated at the chef’s bar looking into the kitchen, able to converse and question, the conversation veering through food experiences to the cultural significance of dishes. Patrick is joined in the kitchen by his nephew Adriaan and Chef Joe Davis. It’s a quiet, orderly kitchen where precision is key.

“I wanted … to explore something akin to the intimate experience of being in someone’s home having dinner,” Patrick tells us, “a place where you can taste the love.”

That’s exactly what we feel as we dine. With an ‘a la carte’ menu, you can choose your favourite dishes to share, vegetarians and vegans easily catered for. However, ‘Dinner by Rabbath’ ($79 for four courses) is a great choice, presenting a chef’s selection from the menu in four stages, a mix of share plates and individual dishes.

Our starter is a dish of warm olives and smoked almonds served with the aniseed-flavoured Arak sagi and Sharab el-toot, a non-alcoholic mulberry syrup drink. Next, Mezyah is an array of several dips such as labneh (freshly made yoghurt cheese), Ban’jan (a smoked tomato and eggplant ragu), za’atar, EVO and black olive powder, together with a house-baked unleavened Lebanese mountain bread, Khoubiz, for dipping.

For Main course, we’re provided with a feast of dishes: Costalleta, delicious lamb cutlets coated in seven spice presented with pommes frites; a 220g grass-fed yearling eye fillet or Biftek delivered from the grill to stand before being plated up in a rich clarified butter sauce; Tabouleh and Fatoush salads; and my favourite, M’loukhieh, ‘The king’s dish’, crispy skin grilled chicken in a coriander and m’loukhieh leaf rich chicken broth on a bed of rice. For dessert, Baklawa, the restaurant’s signature nut pastry dessert infused with orange blossom (served from Patrick’s mother’s tray) is the best we’ve tasted.

We finish the journey satiated with food, wine, conversation and an evening experiencing the theatre of food. We leave the table filled with thanks for an evening enriched with culture, the power of family hospitality in its most generic yet intimate sense.

Francis Loughran, from Future Food recently said: “…successful food and beverage businesses have never been just about the food. Good food, even great food, is just the starting point and by itself is not enough to make a sustainable venue: hospitality, in the true sense of the word, is the ‘special sauce’.”

If that is so, there’s a lot of ‘special sauce’ in Rabbath.

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