Tasting authentic Syrian cuisine at an infamous Sydney restaurant is one of those things, and it makes for a highly anticipated occasion. Fortunately my anticipation doesn’t ruin the actual event – I have to say, Almond Bar well and truly delivers.
Located just off Darlinghurst Road, and within walking distance to Gelato Messina (oh so dangerous!), Almond Bar is the brainchild of Sharon and Carol Salloum who wanted to bring the traditional Syrian hospitality that they grew up with into a modern Sydney context. Their love of food and bringing people together really shows in the beautiful, atmospheric restaurant and the fantastic service.
What I love about Almond Bar
The selection of almonds
Upon being warmly welcomed by the staff, I notice the variety of almonds that are waiting on the table. Cinnamon-coated, toffee-coated and sesame-coated almonds are just some of the sweet and salty delights that dance on my taste buds.
Almonds are highly revered in some cultures, including in the Middle East where almond trees have been grown since ancient times. Trees grow in Syria and Israel and are referred to in the Bible as “Shaqued” or “Awakening one”, as they are one of the first trees to flower at the close of winter.
The deliciously rich, yet delicate food
Unable to decide which dishes to order, Mr LML and I opt for the mixed platter for two. Who can go wrong with a little bit of everything?!
We are warned by our waiter Tony that the platter takes a few minutes to arrive, and so we take this as an opportune time to familiarise ourselves with the wine list. I order a glass of South Australian Shiraz and Mr. LML orders a Syrian beer – both great choices.
Before we know it the platter is on the table, and in a setup that reminds me of a high tea. There are three plates, one on top of the other, stacked high with cauliflower, falafel, coriander potatoes, grilled calamari, fennel & sumac prawns, chicken skewers, kafta, sumbusic & fattoush salad. A feast that is not only visually stunning, but also super tasty!
Unlike other Middle-Eastern cuisines like Turkish, there is a surprising lack of bread, which means I don’t feel like I need to be rolled home afterward. This is a very good thing.
The attentive service
From the moment Mr. LML and I walk through the door with empty stomachs, we are well looked after. Tony, our waiter, doesn’t skip a beat and our water glasses are always full, our table clean, and our needs satisfied.
With a hospitality background, I am a (well-justified) stickler for good service and am definitely not let down by Almond Bar.
The proximity to my home
This one speaks for itself, but how good is finding a great restaurant that’s within ten minutes of your house?! lastminute lovely Nicole can vouch for me on this one.
The value for money
It’s not often that you can eat out in Sydney (let alone Darlinghurst!) and spend under $100 for two people. At $85, the mixed platter is a delicious sampling of the restaurant’s specialties that is highly affordable. And there are leftovers!
Sadly though, we run out of room and don’t quite make it to dessert. We’ll just have to come back another time, especially to taste the house-made Macadamia Raha (the Syrian version of Turkish delight).
It’s close to home, it doesn’t break the bank, the service is great and the food even better – Almond Bar is a restaurant that ticks all the boxes.
I can finally tick a visit to Almond Bar off the must-try list…and add it to the must-return list
Shauna and Mr. LML dined as guests of Almond Bar.
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