The air is still. I’m sitting on a large covered deck in the middle of a park, looking at a dried up water feature surrounded by drought resistant plants.
The surrounding hills echo with the disorienting hum of cicadas, singing through the hottest part of the day. None-the-less I’m smiling; the environment feels utterly Australian and makes me crave an ice-cold beer.
A cuisine-appropriate Almaza Pilsner ($9) hits the spot, and, for the designated driver charged with getting you back to Sydney in one piece, House-Made Mountain Lemonade ($6). Spiked with orange blossom, the latter is a tart yet floral lemonade, while the pilsner is refreshing and inoffensive.
Labelled, Lebanese Street Food ($19), a plate of red capsicum-spiked hommous topped with nicely charred chicken hunks, olives, chopped tomato and a crown of watercress, was both interesting and new.
While designed to be a feast for one person, the Byblos Tasting Plate ($30), was easy to share, providing us with a good menu overview. A marinated, spiced and char-grilled beef skewer is teamed with shish tawouk sitting on pile of flavoursome Lebanese rice. The sautéed chicken chunks are cooked in spicy tomato, while the rice is made texturally interesting with crisp vermicelli, almonds and pine nuts.
Flash-fried cauliflower florets dusted with za’atar are good run through the garlic sauce (toum). A mint-heavy cabbage salad rounds out the plate, and eats particularly well on this hot summery day, tasting of lemon, garlic, sea salt and sumac. Despite also coming with a trio of dips – labneh, toum and hummous – this whole plate eats better with rice than bread, largely because the bread isn’t as fresh as it could be. Yes it’s a little thing, but when bread is such a vital component of a Lebanese meal, it’s a little thing that affects your meal a lot.
For fewer than sixty bucks, our lunch at Byblos Restaurant & Bar in Gosford was solid without being exceptional.
Byblos Restaurant & Bar
124 Donnison Street, Gosford
Ph: (02) 4324 6006