Hunting for a restaurant in Newtown that “copes quite well with a group of our size” (as a colleague put it) isn’t easy. For a recent farewell dinner we were bombarded with requests “not more Thai”, “not too expensive”, “not too far away”, “not asian, my mum makes it” … If we excluded food by nationality, based on what people ate at home, we’d starve! We’re too diverse for the elimination method, or a democratic decision even. I took a step towards a dictatorship model and booked a cushion room for 25 people at Rowda Ya Habibi’s. In our group Lebanese might be one cuisine that no one can say their mum does better actually, and there were no vocal objections.
The room upstairs is great because you feel like you have the place to yourselves. There’s novelty value in sitting on the floor at low tables. With such a large group we ordered from the banquet menu. We decided that the best method was to order half meat and half vegetarian banquets and share the dishes around. This worked rather well and I’d strongly recommend it. The last time I dined here, with a smaller group, people were determined to choose for themselves. Their determination, combined with some fairly authoritarian service, meant that you couldn’t try a dish unless you had ordered the banquet it was listed on. Sharing food gives you far more freedom and a diversity of flavours.
First came the dips, hommous and a smokey babaganouj served with tabbouleh and plenty of bread. Not wanting to be left out of the fun by my inability to eat bread I ate the dips with a fork. Next came the mix of mains. From the vegetarian dishes I ate vine leaves and plenty of green beans with tomato.
From the meaty banquet I sampled both varieties of shish kebab and was impressed.
The lamb was rare, and the chicken was pleasantly spiced.
The vegetarian banquet also featured battered fried eggplant, cauliflower and felafel balls.
For the carnivores the ladies fingers looked beautifully golden.
Overall Rowda Ya Habibis gives you a range of Lebanese food for a reasonable price. Their cushion rooms offer a great place to hold a large-ish function. However I think the food is nicer at Al Mustafa’s in Glebe. I’ll have to visit again so I can write a post about it. It seems like a good excuse for a nice dinner.
Ratings (out of 5 snorts)