Kin really wanted to have Lebanese food, so after some searches and one failed booking attempt, we got a table at the The Cedar Tree Restaurant. The restaurant is located in Brighton.
When you walk in the tiny shop front, which is quite easily missed, you see a long restaurant with wall hangings, large paintings and brightly painted walls. It felt quite inviting, even when we got further back into the restaurant and there were fewer diners.
After being seated and our wine poured, we settled on the banquet for $35. You get free corkage with the banquet.
The banquet started off with a trio of Dips with Lebanese Bread. The dips would actually be the highlight of my night. The Hommos and Baba Ghanouj were so wonderfully flavoursome that we ate way too much bread. The Taboulie Salad was very refreshing.
The Savoury Pastries contained one with feta and the other one with lamb in it. The feta one was good although the lamb one did smell too strong for my liking. The falafel was excellent as it wasn't overfried so it was too dry. In fact, it was quite moist and soft.
The Jawanih (chicken wings) and Ors Kafta (lamb patties) were quite good. The chicken wings were crispy but a bit too salty. The lamb patties were moist with a charred outer that I liked.
While Kin, Phuong and I were eating the Chicken Rice, which we were enjoying with it's tangy lemon dressing, a belly dancer started to perform.
The belly dancer strutted her stuff across the restaurant. She was very good at it, shaking those hips at an extremely fast pace. A question I do have is, why do a lot of belly dancers have quite a wobbly belly. You would think that with all the shaking they do, they would have washboard abs.
We had a lamb curry with rice to finish and we were all really full by this stage.
But since I love desserts, I kept going. The Mahalabia, which was like a panna cotta with an orange blossum syrup sounded better than it tasted. The custard part was quite bland. The Baklawa and Halkoum (Turkish Delight) weren't so good. The Halkoum was really sweet and didn't have that fragrant flavour. The Baklawa came nowhere near that of El Fayha on Sydney Road. I have tried so many baklava's at so many restaurants and bakery but none have yet come close to El-Fayha yet. I keep mentioning El-Fayha each time I mention baklava as those two words are synonymous for me now. I have gone back so many times but still can't get enough of his pastries. I don't know what his secret is.
The food was quite good and really filling. It was good value for money considering the price. The service was professional and efficient. I liked the belly dancing although some diners at other tables seem almost annoyed to have their meals interrupted.
Overall Rating: 14/20, Good Lebanese food at a good value. I liked the belly dancing as well.
Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20:Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.