Vanessa: I have always had an affinity with the Lebanese Culture as my best friend comes from a large, welcoming Lebanese family and as such I have been spoilt with the delicacies of Arabic cuisine for many years. I have a great appreciation for Lebanese food and so when the opportunity arose for us to try the latest venture of Toko Owner, Matt Yazbek, we jumped at it. A few moths back Yazbek launched a long-term pop-up on Crown Street in Surry Hills, Cubby’s Kitchen. The name derives from Yazbek’s mother Mouna whose nickname happens to be Cubby and the restaurant is an ode to his family’s heritage.
We arrived on a Tuesday night for a 6pm seating and were the only table at that time. That did not last long and by 7pm the space, albeit small, was full. People attempting to walk in with no reservation were filled with disappointment as they were turned away due to the restaurant being fully booked that night. A great testament to the food at Cubby’s which we experienced first hand.
We were welcomed by Yazbek’s sister, Amanda, who explained that they had a number of signature dishes for us to try that evening. Amanda, a co-owner of the family run venture, was clearly very passionate about the food they were serving up at Cubby’s which is always pleasing to see.
We at Team FFS have a strong penchant for bread and when that bread happens to be in the form of crispy, fried Lebanese bread, it takes our love to a whole new level. A heaving basket of bread was placed before us alongside two dips.
The babaganoush ($11) was a rich combination of chunky eggplant mixed with sweet miso. Delicious and unique with the addition of the miso which balanced the strong flavour of the eggplant.
The smoked labneh ($10) was creamy and bold in flavour with the addition of pistachio crumbs and pomegranate chilli oil, something I had never tried before. It is the perfect accompaniment to elevate the labneh which is subtle in flavour.
One of Cubby’s signature plates playfully known as the Basturma Rock ‘n’ Rolls ($13) consists of 3 month aged beef and goat’s cheese encased in Cubby’s pastry. These were outstanding. The flavour combination of the salty beef mixed with the goats cheese worked well and the pastry was crispy and flaky. These were a hit at our table as I am sure everyone elses that night.
Fatoush salad ($11) is another favourite of ours, mainly due to the inclusion of the fried bread which makes it no ordinary salad! Cubby’s Fatoush is loaded with tomato, cucumber fresh mint and parsley which makes for a refreshing accompaniment to the heavier dishes
When the lamb kafta ($15) arrived at our table, the smell of the spices instantly wafted over us. Three skewers of Flinders Island lamb that had been mixed with parsley, onion and Lebanese spices all served up on bread with a yoghurt dressing . The kafta was so succulent and left the bread moist from the juices of the meat, making it the perfectly tasty accompaniment.
Although we were slowly slipping into a food-endused coma (mainly due to the carb loading) we mustered up the stomach space to try the desserts. We had caught a glimpse of Knafeh being on the menu as we walked in so always knew our night would end with this!
The steaming hot Knafeh is served in a small iron pan and consists of a filling of clotted cream topped with crunchy kataifi pastry and drizzled with rose syrup. ($11). We have had Knafeh many times (having followed the movements of the Knafeh Brothers) but never have we tried it with the kataifi pastry. This added a fantastic textural element to the creaminess of the dish making for one memorable Knafeh!
Another first for me was the Booza Ice-cream ($9) . Hand-made ice-cream with middle eastern flavours of turkish delight, pistachio and chocolate and cinnamon, the ice-cream was subtle in flavour and stretchy in texture .
On that sweet note we wrapped our experience at Cubby’s Kitchen. The quality of the food and the creativity of the menu makes for a delicious dining experience. It is also well-priced given its Surry Hills location and clearly a hotspot with the locals already. If you have a hankering for Lebanese food get yourself down to Cubby’s but be sure to make a booking to avoid disappointment!
Photos by Alex
*For Foods Sake dined as guests of Cubby’s Kitchen. All thoughts and opinions however are our own.