Those who have visited the largest city in Lebanon, will be well acquainted with the bustling neighbourhood of Gemmayze—hoards of locals and tourists bustle around the compact district visiting the hundreds of cafes, bars and restaurants, from dawn well into the darkest hours.
K Road’s newest addition pays homage to the vibrant precinct with their modern take on Lebanese cuisine. Aucklanders already have their fair share of Mezze bars and in all honesty, I’ve never really been a fan of the concept—we’re used to gluey hummus, limp vine leaves encasing flavourless who-knows-what and stale flatbread. So please don’t assume you’ll find the same at Gemmayze Street, because that is certainly not the case.
Here, you’ll find staple Lebanese fare yes, but it’s bold in flavour, vibrant in appearance and generous with textures. The silky smooth hummus comes to life thanks to the roast garlic, paprika oil and crunchy chickpeas that simply dissolve upon first bite. The Arnabeet consists of fried cauliflower, plump golden raisins and almonds—a glorious combination of sweet savoury. And the Shish Barak had me fumbling for my phone mid mouthful to alert whoever would listen about it; the delicate pheasant ravioli is dressed in tangy yoghurt, mint and pinenuts—I only wish they’d serve it as a main so I don’t get weird looks… You know, because I plan to dine there tomorrow and order ten.
Mains are hearty and bold. Earthy lamb, burghul and pinenuts comes alive with the pomegrante molasses and scattering of mint. And grilled octopus is seasoned with lemony thyme and served alongside taramasalata—a paste made from cured fish roe, lemon, olive oil and potato.
Their desserts are contemporary, while still showcasing traditional flavours. They also serve decadent Lebanese coffee and tea in beautiful copper cups, alongside native wine, beer and sodas.
Admittedly, I’ve never traveled to Beirut, but dining at Gemmayze Street certainly has me curious about the destination—with its plush interiors in bold copper and rich wood and flavoursome menu, this family-run restaurant will certainly change your perception of Lebanese fare. It certainly changed mine.
Want more? Find out more details about Gemmayze St, including opening hours here.
Image credit: Lauren Matilda Matthews