(02) 9637 0977
Category: Cheapo ($0 - $50)
Ahhh yes, the famed Lebanese chicken place… At last, we are here. I am always scared to try these places. They are hyped up and talked about so much, and sometimes with this comes expectation, and with expectation normally comes failure, especially if you don’t deliver. Besides, it’s just charcoal chicken, not even organic, or corn fed or anything like that… surely it can’t be that good, right? Well… I am so happy to say wrong!
This place delivers in spades… well and truly, ever since 1998 Andre Estephan and his wife Carole have been dishing out succulent, juicy chooks, and despite some hiccups along the way (most notably a fire that shut the restaurant for a period of time, they have expanded not only the shop but also opened up a new restaurant in Punchbowl.
So let’s start with décor. Quite simply, it’s average, there is nothing to write home about, and frankly, I think that is the way they intended it. The menu is also very simple and the thing I really like about it is that face that there are not that many options!
It really is all about the chicken, oh and there is just one more thing… the garlic sauce. If the Green Tea Crème Brulee from Musashi was revolutionary then this was mind blowing. Put politely, I think, it is f*cking amazing. Now, I have been informed by my native Lebanese friends that the recipe used at El Jannah is not exactly the traditional recipe of purely garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil which is then blended until it forms fluffy white peaks, and that they add cream, and also potentially potato, but even they agree, it is very good.
I still haven’t spoken about the chicken though. It is butterflied first before being placed on the hot charcoal, and despite being quite salty on its own, with some bread, and that garlic sauce, it is perfect. Unlike most other chickens you buy where parts of the chicken are tough and stringy and chewy, on all the occasions I have had it here, it has been juicy and succulent right the way through. From the breast piece (which normally I don’t like to eat) through to the thigh, wings and drumstick.
The chips are a great accompaniment to the meal (they drown the stuff in chicken salt which makes it taste so much better despite them being just regular store bought chips) and use the garlic sauce in place of the tomato and it is truly the stuff of legends. Other sides include Hommous (which is very good too), Baba Ganoush, and Tabouli. If you are looking for something simpler they have some great wraps for around $7.50 which will also ensure you don’t go home hungry.
For $19.90 eat in, you get a whole chicken, that amazing sauce, pickles and bread (It is a steal!). Tack on chips, and 2 drinks and you will still get change from $30. Good luck getting a seat any night of the week however especially towards the back end and on weekends. They have also recently expanded and begun cooking shish kebabs and you can now buy mixed plates etc. For me however, this place will always be about the chicken and that garlic sauce.
Overall, it is not particularly healthy or amazing food on paper. The chicken is not grain fed, or Lilydale or free range, the chips are not hand cut, nor is the bread made on site but really… do I care about all this? No I don’t, not in the slightest… The chicken is excellent, and that sauce to die for. In this day and age, for $30 you will be hard pressed to find a more satisfying feed for 2 (You will probably have some left over for the day after too). I still remember taking my wife here for the first time, and like me, she was saying ‘come on, it’s just chicken, it can’t be that good…’ How wrong she and I were, for this is… that good.
$30 (eat in) will ensure 2 people are satisfied. I recommend finding 2 more friends however and ordering up 2 chooks, hommous, tabouli, and fries to share, add drinks and it will be well less than $20 a head. What a steal!
BONUS 1.5/2 (That garlic sauce is amazing…)
BONUS 1.5/2 (That garlic sauce is amazing…)
NB. I have taken out service & decor as a score for the 'Cheapo' category as the 2 are not relevant, nor to me dramatically important as it is all about value (hence it has been added), and quality and less about the overall dining experience. So effectively it scores 14/17, however for consistency I have re-calcuated to reflect a score out of 20