Ezra is a new Israeli restaurant on Kellett Street in Potts Point. The menu draws from Ashkenazi and Sephhardic Jewish culinary influences and was inspired by the Tel Aviv food scene. With new restaurant openings scarce (understandably) there has been a lot of buzz about Ezra, so what is it like?
First things first: to eat at Ezra you do need to make a booking. When we left at 8:30pm there's a line of people waiting for the 8:30pm seating and several people get turned away without a booking as they have a restricted capacity due to COVID-19.
The chef is Ben Sears of Moon Park and Paper Bird and the owners are couple Nick and Kirk Mathews Bowden. They were inspired by multiple trips to Tel Aviv. Although none of the main principals are Israeli or Jewish they have drawn from Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jewish cultures and foods. Service from all of the staff is lovely and friendly and we feel adequately socially distant from others in the outdoor dining area.
I haven't seen JY all year long so we have a lot to catch up on but we both know our priority is ordering so we get this done quickly. The first item to come out is a spanner crab felafel. It's a nice little bite although more felafel than spanner crab and it comes on a bed of avocado and tahini cream.
Things really pick up the pace and taste from here and the Gilda or their version the Gilda Radner is a briney, salty couple of mouthfuls. The Gilda is a salmon pastrami pinxtos with halved olives and pickled chilli on a toothpick. It's not overly salty and yet perfectly salted and the ideal bite to start a meal with.
Both of our favourite dip is the Ikra made with whipped cod roe and a centre of eggplant dip with fried baby capers and dill. It's got that taramasalata vibe but with a super smooth and creamy texture. The dips are rich and best ordered with the breads. We tried the Jerusalem bagel and pita bread. Both were served warm and were equally good accompaniments for the dips.
The labne is creamy, tangy and thick and is topped with diced grilled zucchini, pickled cucumber and zhoug (a spicy green Middle Eastern coriander sauce).
The raw beef course comes out while we're eating the dips and it serves well as a break between dips. This is the spiced up version of a beef tartare with a generous amount of baharat spice mix that is strong with cinnamon and cumin. There are slices of red onion on top and almond cream on the bottom to balance this out.
We are sharing a main which is a good idea for two people because they are sizeable. The chicken and the potato latke arrives together. The chicken is superbly tender and is baked in blistered blackened vine leaves with smoked garlic toum and roasted halved red grapes. Anything with smoked toum is good and this is a creamy toum rather than a fluffy one and we promptly ask for another. "A customer once told me that they toum was too garlicky!" they tell us. We respond, "There's no such thing as too garlicky!".
"I'm so full," I say, vanquished by the large portion of chicken and multiple starters but then suddenly a foolhardy idea springs to mind. I stuff said chicken and toum into the remaining pocket of pits bread to make myself a sandwich. The heart wants what the heart wants...
I had all intentions to save this to eat with the chicken but it's not exactly huge and it's essentially two to three bites' worth if you're sharing it. This is not really like a typical potato latke (potato pancake), instead it's a fancier version. It's a crispy, golden layered potato cake topped with braised creamed silverbeet, sour cream and a generous spooning of salmon roe on top. It's surprisingly sweet but then the saltiness of the salmon roe takes over. It's crunchy, golden and tasty although its size makes it suitable for sharing with no more than 1-2 people.
As they're taking our plates away they commiserate that we couldn't order the muhammara because of JY's nut allergies. "You should get it, he says it's amazing," she says. "But I'm so full...but maybe" and before you know it, I've ordered a serve of the muhammara dip for a little pre-dessert treat. It's made with capsicum with macadamias and herbs with sweetness from pomegranate. There's more crunchy macadamias on top and it is a great dip to go with the Ikra as they're so different from each other.
"I want all three desserts," said JY at the beginning of the meal and I'm more than happy with that situation. The rice pudding is creamy with sweet accents on top from the caramelised white chocolate and halva.
Much has been said about the baklava ice cream sandwich and it is very good. It's for those looking for a sweet dessert. Larger than a typical baklava, it's a diamond shaped burnt honey ice cream covered in caramelised filo.
My favourite dessert however is the malabi solely for its gorgeous texture. It's an almond milk panna cotta with a pleasingly lovely wobble to it. There are pieces of strawberry and there is said to be orange blossom but it's light in this.
They slip our bill on the table with a smile at 8:15pm and we realise that our two hours is almost up!
So tell me Dear Reader, are there some friends or family that you haven't seen for a long time because of the COVID situation? Do you ever think you're full but then something comes along and you're not too full after all?
This meal was independently paid for.
Tuesday to Friday: 5:00pm - late
Saturday: 12:00pm - 3.30pm, 5pm - late
Sunday: 12:00pm - 3.30pm, 5pm - 9pm
Phone: (02) 8322 0929