There’s nothing like a warm Middle Eastern feast to get you through those chilly winter nights. Traditional spice peppered throughout hearty fare, getting your hands dirty as you pull apart fresh Lebanese bread dipped in rich hummus and melt-in-your-mouth lamb. It’s the shared mess that makes a Middle Eastern dinner something you look forward to, as you dig into big platters and swap stories.
The Circular Quay end of town has had an injection of new fun diners of late, with Rockpool’s Bar Patron, and Rosetta opening nearby. Though it wouldn’t be a party without the fun flavours of Middle Eastern cuisine in the mix.
Cubby’s Kitchen, the food baby of Toko Owner, Matt Yazbek, his two sisters and former NRL star, Anthony Watmough promised to excited and delight (and it did not disappoint). Growing roots in its new home in Sydney CBD, after popping up in Surry Hills in 2016, the duo took authentic Middle Eastern and fused it with Japanese influence, with Yazbek applying his Japanese cooking background to create subtle connections in both style, and flavours.
The venue itself is bustling for a mid-week meal – laughter fills the restaurant, as groups of friends and family filter in table-by-table. We’ve made sure we’re incredibly hungry, ready to fill up on all the rich, saucy goodness that comes with this authentic cuisine.
We start the night with a cocktail – I order the Araktini, with my girlfriend choosing the Lebanese Beauty. The Araktini comes with the punch you expected – strong enough to get you tipsy and best enjoyed with some starters. We order Cubby’s special hummus which does not disappoint – a meal in its own right, the hummus has kick, but the pulled lamb and hummus balance out the flavours. The cocktail also cuts through the C.F.C – deep-fried chicken with zaatar and sweet paprika, along with the grilled burnt corn (which was a must-try). Moving away from a meat-heavy menu, Cubby’s entrees feed into 2018’s trend of putting veggies on a pedestal. With their incredibly natural flavours, it’s only right that they become star of the show.
Despite loving the cocktails, we swiftly move over to the wine list. Anthony talks us through some of his faves, which helps when picking out both the wine and the mains. We’re both dying to try the Samke harra – Cone Bay barramundi with harissa and sliced almonds – which boasted the best kind of space (lucky we had some delicious Lebanese wine to wash it all down). The seafood was my pick of the night, however, the Lamb shawarma (with it’s chilli oil) paid homage to the subtle Japanese connection.
We leave the restaurant very, very full (but in a good way). The incredible ode to Matt Yazbek’s mum is prominent through a menu that serves food made with love.