Summer Friday evenings are made for drinks and dinner with friends, watching the sky slowly change colour. We recently spent a warm Friday evening at Isme, a Lebanese restaurant hidden in the backstreets of Fitzroy. We were invited by restaurant management to try the menu, and it was a wonderful evening. Japanese may be the cuisine that I love to eat out, but Lebanese is the cuisine that I usually cook at home. So I was excited and ready to get inspired.
Drinks! We started with some fresh and zingy mocktails. A tropical fruity drink and a minty lime drink. Both were fabulous.
The menu at Isme is made up of Mezza (Lebanese tapas) and a few bigger dishes. I like this because it means you can try lots of different things and share over drinks. Pictured above is the ‘hummos dip topped with diced lamb and traditional spices’ ($15.9), ‘sumbuski ‘($10.9) and ‘pumpkin pockets’ ($12.9)
The hummos dip was creamy and rich. It tasted luxurious with the beautifully spiced diced lamb on top. It came with crunchy shards of pita to scoop it all up, and so I did.
These awesome sumbuski were packed with minced meat, onion and pinenuts. We kind of fought over the last one.
The pumpkin pockets were hearty and wholesome. A vegetarian version of kibbeh, which is usually made with minced meat.
We also ordered the ‘roasted eggplant’ (15.9) which was my favourite dish of the night. The soft and caramelised eggplant was topped with a rich tomato, onion and garlic reduction and scattered with chickpeas. I could eat this forever. Eggplant is already one of my favourite vegetables, but the rich cooked-down tomato really kicked it up a notch. So good!
Mini chicken skewers marinated with garlic, zaatar, lemon and chilli and served with a garlic dip. ($13.9) Tender, flavourful chicken with a proper super garlicky dip.
Our final savoury dish was from the ‘Bigger’ side of the menu: ‘The Vegan: fried cauliflower, broccolini, asparagus, pomegranate, currants, pine nuts and herbed tahini’ ($18.9). This was our least favourite – we thought the flavour could be elevated a bit. However, that being said, it was still yum, just not the kind of epic you would expect from the ‘Bigger’ side of the menu.
To finish off the meal: ‘Sweet as Isme’: sugar and cinnamon dusted chips, served with vanilla bean ice-cream ($12.9) It was fun dipping the crunchy chips (I think they were deep fried bread!) into the icecream. Though, I would have loved some softer chewier chips as well as crunchy ones to mix it up a little.
It was such a lovely night, with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. I think Isme is a great spot to go to get away from the crowds of Brunswick street and have a leisurely lunch or dinner.
Disclaimer: I was invited by Isme to try their menu, and I did not pay for the food provided. My words and opinions are my own.