Emma's Snack Bar on Liberty Road in Enmore is a very popular local's favourite. Serving up well priced Lebanese plates in a casual setting, you'll know it when you see it. It's the one where crowds are waiting outside. Open originally as "Emma's on Liberty", it reopened in 2014 as Emma's Snack Bar denoting a more casual style of food and setting.
Mr NQN and I are having dinner with Miss America and Queen Viv. We have a table booked for a 6-8pm window at Emma's sitting right next to the door. We choose quickly mindful that even at 6pm it is very busy. We were warned, things get hectic here at night so eating earlier is less noisy. We flick through the 4 page menu and order a couple of orange blossom teas. While I love orange blossom, in a tea it is very strong indeed.
We haven't seen Miss America or Queen Viv for a few weeks now and there is plenty to catch up on. Our conversation skips across topics like "manly" cats, Queen Viv's dating life, Wuthering Heights day and how to get away with a crime (tip: use WD-40, it removes the oils from fingerprints!).
The dips are quick to arrive and I'm relieved-often when we are given a specific dining window it's only really a problem if the kitchen can't keep up but this doesn't appear to be a problem. Toum or fluffy garlic dip is my guilty pleasure - guilty mainly because it is very strong in garlic so I feel sorry for anyone that has to face me afterwards but it's so creamy and fluffy stuff and goes on everything that we wipe every scrap clean. The baba ganoush is also fantastic with a judicious amount of smoke to it but also a lovely creamy texture.
The speciality is the Moorish chicken and I can see why. The tender spice marinated chicken is grilled in Lebanese bread and topped with shaved red onion and served with aioli (or is it mayonnaise and everything that I taste is of garlic after the toum? ;)). It's really just a toasted sandwich but it is perfectly done.
We also enjoy the squeaky sumac dusted pan fried halloumi which is a good sized portion. Most things do tend to come in lots of fours.
The traditional version of hommous is topped with sauteed minced lamb and pine nuts. It's delicious and quite a filling dip with smooth hummus and seasoned lamb.
The ladies fingers come three to a serve with a lamb, pine nut and pomegranate molasses filling. They have a papery thin crisp filo outer and are noticeably sweet-I am not sure if it is front the pomegranate molasses as I don't get the tart tang, mostly sweetness.
I was a bit worried that Arak's aniseed flavour would be too pronounced as I am getting to like anise flavoured items (it's the only thing that I don't tend to naturally order and I want to fix that). These prawns are flambeed with arak but you don't really even taste any anise as they are dressed with a garlic sauce and sumac. The prawns are very tender and juicy and they're great wedged into a thin layer of pita bread and toum.
The knafeh here is different from the one at the Knafeh food truck. This version is almost like a crumble and is made with a ricotta and pistachio cheese filling topped with orange blossom syrup and biscuitty crumbs. We are all big fans of this and spoon up every last drop. And by 8pm our time is up and there's a crowd gathered outside and inside eager to take our place.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you worry if the kitchen can keep up if you have a booking window? Do you feel pressure to finish your meal if people are standing waiting closeby? And did you know the WD-40 tip? ;)
Emma's Snack Bar
59 Liberty Street, Enmore, NSW, 2042
Ph: +61 (02) 9550 3458
Open 5-10pm Tuesday to Saturday