59 Freedom Street
|work hours||Dinner Tuesday – Saturday 5 pm – 10 pm|
|Features||BYO, Licensed, Eats Cheap, Family Friendly|
|the prices||Medium ($20 – $40)|
|Payments||eftpos, Visa and Mastercard|
|phone||02 9550 3458|
“Proudly serving Enmore for over 50 years.” The sign on the wall of the newly renovated Emma’s Snack Bar says it all.
In 1970, Lebanese immigrants George and Emma Sophie opened a “mixed business” corner store to cater to the neighborhood. By the late 1980s, she was stealing sandwiches and Emma’s Lebanese food. Son Anthony took over as chef-owner in 1999 and opened a restaurant called Emma’s on Liberty, which later turned into Emma’s Snack Bar.
The evolution continues, with Emma reopening after a four-month closure with a shiny new commercial kitchen. The window-lined dining space is much the same, with a long communal table in the middle, heated tables of high and low tables and a stool lined with stools. With a full house, it’s pure chaos, and it only works because it has its own unique way of getting things done.
Take the wine list. You can’t, because there isn’t one. Whatever you order will be $13 for a glass, $32 for a beaker, or $45 for a bottle. You are not provided with wineries or varieties; Only options like “crisp and centipede” or “pink and friendly” for eggs, and “mature and fleshy” or “light and spicy” for reds. Everything you really need.
Water serves yourself from the tap on the wall. Staff go in and out of the kitchen, clearing the tables and then covering them again with more small plates.
Behind the bar, Ethan Dinopoulos pours wine, shakes up whiskey cocktails, takes phone orders, directs junior staff, and pushes takeaway TV dinner packages through the side window to locals and food-delivery riders on the footpath outside.
The food is reckoned as “just good fresh Lebanese food”, which pretty much covers it. Hummus, the mortar that brings the building blocks of Lebanese cooking together, comes thick and creamy ($13), backed by a pile of Lebanese bread to slice and dip. It goes well with a fresh, pure Almaza beer from Lebanon ($10) or a glass of fruit, faqara aniseed ($10).
One of the big orders—and I mean big—is the Ladies Fingers Serving ($18), a tall filo cigar filled with minced lamb, spices, deep-fried, and cut in half; Great for a group.
Meat is meat – ask for sausage, and you’ll get sausage over sausage – but just as many dishes are dedicated to vegetables like broccoli, pumpkin, cabbage, potatoes and eggplant, in keeping with traditional, family-style Lebanese cooking.
Fattoush Salad ($16) is colorful and crunchy with fridge-cold cucumbers, tomatoes, and fried bread, but it doesn’t feel its best in the winter.
House Moorish Chicken ($25) is great for the winter, as long as you’re as hungry as a horse. Flame-grilled chicken thighs, marinated overnight in garlic chili, chili and sumac, wrapped in Lebanese bread with garlic mayonnaise and red onion and then placed back on the grill until the bread is pounding hard. Stylish, it’s not. Homely, tasty and filling, it is.
And yes, Wirra’s Wirra Scrubby Rise sauvignon blanc is actually “floral and friendly,” and Redbank pinot noir is “light and spicy.”
So, welcome back, Emma. It’s best to go in a small group so you can cover the table with goodies. It’s best to order everything while you have a staff member’s attention, because you may never get it again.
Better yet, take what you get even if you don’t order it, and don’t worry about your actual order not showing up at all.
Oh, and it’s not better to go out thinking they don’t make dessert, and then see baklava and kunafa on a board by the door as you lock it behind you.
Next, Anthony Sophie is looking to convert the upstairs, where the family has lived for 40 years, into a new nostalgic pub with mixed business. Organized chaos on the road seems to be knit with hummus. excellent.
go to plate Maghrebi Chicken, $25
drinks See you, Lebanese Almaza beer, three whites, three reds, Lebanese coffee
cost About $90 for two, plus drinks