For my birthday this year, John took me to a new Lebanese restaurant and I loved it. It’s run by the Bou Mansour family of Georges, Sarah and their son Luca. On our first visit I didn’t bring my camera because I don’t blog on my birthday. Call me lazy or queenie but I have rules.
Our server told us about how the Mansours, after spending time in Lebanon, came back to Australia and opened Zahtar to share their family recipes passed down from generations. I told her that I was a food blogger and I’d be back so I could share this restaurant with my readers. I mentioned our meal on Facebook and within 24 hours Georges and I were friends.
Today, John asked if I felt like Lebanese food. (Why do people say it like that?) Of course I said yes.
We arrived late afternoon so it would still be light enough to photograph. We again ordered the Lebanese Table which is 12 dishes, including the lamb and chicken skewers and the beef patties, dips, salad, pickles and bread.
This is the restaurant’s wallpaper. For ten minutes we tried to figure out all the country stamps and then tried to write in Arabic and failed. Not only couldn’t I speak it but I couldn’t write it either. How do you write right to left without smudging what you’ve already written? I have always wanted to learn Arabic and never had the opportunity.
This bread spread with spicy chargrilled capsicum dip with grilled halloumi on top was outstanding! I want to learn how to make this at home. Maybe one day the restaurant will offer a cooking class? I can only hope.
We didn’t finish everything and John refused to leave one bite, so we came home with a few olives and a couple of pickles and some stuffed vine leaves.
This is Luca and he loves working in the family business. He can set a table quicker than you can blink your eye and he’s got the most amazing smile.
If you want Lebanese products such as pickled peppers, pickled eggplant, pink pickled turnip and many other products, this is the place to go. I saw all these and hoped it meant they were going to offer cooking classes so we’d buy all that stuff.
The vine leaves are stuffed with cheese, olives and zahtar. John ate those two on the top before I got my fingers over there. The Lebanese beer was mine and I loved it.
I really like falafel but these are different to any that I’ve ever had before. They’re big, crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside and served with a tahini sauce and pink pickled turnip and pickled peppers.
John and I love hummus and always have some in the fridge or the ingredients to make it in the pantry. Zahtar makes a better hummus than I do and the ruby pomegranate arils are always mine.
The pumpkin dip is really interesting and the server on our first visit told us that it was their most popular dip. I know why.
The meat arrives covered in a blanket of pita bread to keep it warm.
The shish tawouk or chicken skewers, are marinated in yogurt and spices and I have to tell you how wonderfully cooked it was.
See how moist? It was so soft you barely had to chew!
John did the honors with the lamb shish kebab. The lamb was cooked perfectly pink inside, just the way we like to eat it.
Now, honestly, I was way beyond full by this point and we were sitting there enjoying the last bit of red wine from the Adelaide Hills and I looked over at the dessert case and saw something that looked really interesting. It’s Lebanese cheesecake. The base, sides and top are all phyllo dough, all buttery and covered in honey and the cheesecake tastes like no cheesecake I’ve ever eaten. It’s cheese all right but not tangy cream cheese. The server didn’t know how it was made so that’s something to discover on my next visit.
Zahtar is on Ocean Street with new restaurants lining the street, nearly all the way to the water. The Sunshine Coast couldn’t be happier and every one of these restaurants was busy today – late afternoon.
Our meal was independently paid for.
Zahtar, a Taste of Lebanon
12 Ocean Street
Maroochydore, QLD 4558
07 5326 3271
ah Maureen ! what amazing and delicious food!! We love libaneses’s food, my mother in law was from Libano so we make some recipes.
Hubby loves vine leaves and these look amazing!!
Im sure John enjoyed:))
Have a nice Valentine’s day dear!!
Jill Colonna says
Wow, Maureen! I love Lebanese not just since the food is so good but you can enjoy many little dishes. What a birthday feast. For a start, I’d love to dive into that pumpkin dip!
What a wonderful meal. I make shish tawouk using Sawsan’s recipe and it’s amazing. Serving the skewers inside the pita is a great idea so it can also absorb the juices from the skewers … not a drop of that marinade should go to waste. 🙂
Those stuffed grape leaves look great too though I prefer the rice/ground beef filling as I’m not fond of olives.
Lell Trogdon says
What a lovely review! Isn’t it wonderful to eat a meal out and know that you have been served something that is better than you might have made at home? Keep us posted on what you discover about that interesting cheesecake.
Rachel (Rachel's Kitchen NZ) says
Oh, looks absolutely fabulous – Maureen – I adore Middle Eastern food.
Nagi@RecipeTin Eats says
Seeing this made my heart melt…I absolutely ADORE Lebanese food, and I can’t think of a better place than a family run restaurant. Those falafels….REAL falafels…..PS Luca is adorable PPS You should ask George for one of his signature recipes and share it with us all! 🙂
John@Kitchen Riffs says
Looks like a fun place! Lebanese food is good, and not something I eat all that often. Sounds like you had a fun birthday! 🙂
Great write up and pictures. The chicken looked divine. But in my mind IO ate the lamb cause I love lamb.
Nice birthday gift.
Carol Preibis says
What a fun and enlightening post! I love learning about ethnic foods! Thanks!
Veronica (Roni) says
Oh Thanks for the tip Maureen…you’ve sure titillated the tastebuds with this story (& your gorgeous pics :))
Ciao Florentina says
I’m all about those stuffed grape vine leaves ! Yummy !
Lizzy (Good Things) says
Ooooooh, another fab venue to visit with you next time we’re up that way! Sounds like a truly delicious menu too, and really friendly people!
I should not have read this before breaky! Drooling! Every single bit looks amazing.
Suzy @ The Mediterranean Dish says
Great post, Maureen! That Lebanese Table and those grape leaves made me feel so at home on your blog 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
Altho’ Northern European there would not be a week when there aren’t at least a few Lebanese or similar Middle-Eastern dishes on my table! For decades already! Your feast is absolutely formidable [John; you are not reading . . .it is also one of the healthiest cuisines in the world!!] and I would so have loved to have been sitting at your table!! Now: I am not trying to break ‘house rules’ but I certainly do not have time always to make all the different spice mixtures . . . for years and years I have been SO happy with the za’atar, shish gawook and shwarma from Sami’s Spices in Sydney: yes on line, big bags and not all expensive [Australian readers naturally l!]. Hope you enjoy, go back and cook yourselves: easy!!!!!
We often have ‘dip dinners’ with chopped up fresh veg and dips. Even John loves it several times a week. He’s being good.
Amanda (@lambsearshoney) says
Lucky you, what a great little place to have so handy. I adore Lebanese food – actually, I just love all Middle Eastern food. I doubt I’d cook much if I lived too close to this spot.
Nancy | Plus Ate Six says
That spread with all the different dips, pickles and meats is just about my idea of a perfect meal out. How gorgeous is young Luca? You certainly dropped enough hints about a cooking class there – I hope it works for you!
You think I overdid it and it sounded like begging??? 🙂
Dhanya Samuel says
The food looks amazing, exactly the flavours that I enjoy. Hope someday, I get to visit this beautiful resto….
And I know to write Arabic and I endlessly enjoy the attention I get amongst my friends…one of the perks of growing up in the Middle East.
Marissa | Pinch and Swirl says
What a delicious spread, Maureen! I’ve never been to a Lebanese restaurant before and clearly that’s a big mistake!
You cracked me up btw, “I don’t blog on my birthday.” Amen. 🙂
We took my dad to a Lebanese restaurant for lunch yesterday—so darned tasty! Now you have me craving it all over again. Thanks for your kind note, my friend. xo
Dedy@Dentist Chef says
Simply damn delicious and lovin their generous portion!!!
we had zahtar restaurant too here in Jakarta, didn;t sure if they affiliated……
luca is definitely charming, my mom gonna be crazy if somebody “hire” underaged child like that actually
It’s perfectly okay for a kid to work with his or her parents in their business and Luca LOVES it. I don’t think for a minute if he hated it that he’d have to work. 🙂 He looks like a very much loved young man.
you are not a quennie, you are right ! There are days or bloger it is “forbidden”! This restaurant is a marvel, I love the Lebanese restaurant, misfortune here in Bordeaux there is not much,restaurant like this, it’s too classic city. The last time I went was in London!
Luca is very cute!
I like the idea of sharing all these dishes, is the culture mediterranean!
I hope you had a great weekend 😉
Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch) says
Great looking food, so colorful. We have a Lebanese restaurant here in Denver and now I must go. Thanks Maureen.
InTolerant Chef says
Oh delicious! What a great meal, I love all those dishes. Very cute little man, I’m sure he’ll get lots of tips with that gorgeous smile 🙂
Kate @ Babaganosh.org says
You guys had an amazing feast! I don’t think I’ve ever had Lebanese food specifically, but I love all kinds of middle eastern food and most of the dishes you posted look familiar (and delicious).
What a wonderful place to celebrate YOU!!! 🙂 I love Lebanese food so much, and this looks beautifully prepared. Happy Birthday, lovely! xo
What delightful dishes. Happy Birthday Maureen, how funny that you don’t blog on your birthday 😀 How do they get the falafel crispy on the outside but moist on the inside? Mine are always a bit dry inside. A great selection of protein and vegetable dishes, roasted capsicum is amazing I am sure you could create a similar dish, but not quite with the warm ambience of this restaurant.
happy belated birthday!
Abbe @ This is How I Cook says
I love spreads like his. One of my favorite meals was eaten in Israel at an Arabic restaurant where mezze were the name of the game. I could have spent all day there. Glad you had a happy birthday, Maureen. It looks like you chose well!
Hotly Spiced says
I’m glad you went back to review this restaurant because I remember hearing how good it was when you went on your birthday. I think Arabic would be easier to learn if you’re left handed because we lefties naturally want to go from right to let and that way we’d never leave any smudges. I do love the look of all the food and I love how the beef came wrapped in a blanket of bread – what a good idea xx
Shashi RunninSrilankan says
Muareen – when I lived in Abu Dhabi – I had to study Arabic – but I never used it and so have forgotten it all! Languages are something I have a hard time mastering. But, I think I could master the art of finishing off a plate of that Lebanese cheesecake in seconds flat! Reading through their menu brings back memories for me of the Lebanase food we used to eat in Abu Dhabi!
Mary Frances says
What a fantastic restaurant! All of their food looks absolutely amazing, I’m so jealous!
The Ninja Baker says
Do believe Lebanon is the homeland of one of my favorite poets Kahlil Gibrain…And the luxurious rich words he writes would accompany a sumptuous feast at Zahtar. Looks like you got the star treatment. I’d be happy with those better than falafel bites and that phyllo cheesecake!
Sara | Belly Rumbles says
What a fantastic feast. And big happy birthday!
Happy Belated Birthday Maureen! Looks like you had a lovely evening!
GiGi Eats says
Lebanese is HANDS DOWN my favorite food on the face of the planet!!!!! SHAWARMA – in my mouth it goes, in literally 5 seconds!