I haven’t written a full restaurant review in a very long time and I’m not expecting to do so any time soon either. I’ve also been very slack taking photos as my galleries will attest. Eating out though continues at full steam ahead, if not more than it’s ever been.
Occasionally though I will eat somewhere that for some reason or other moves me to share my experience by writing a post on this pathetic excuse for a blog that I’ve managed to keep online all these years.
Ani Restaurant tucked away at 86 Blaxland Rd, Ryde NSW 2112 is one such place. I haven’t had so much good food and yet spent so little in a very long time. Really!
This will be more of a visual tour than a review. Here goes…
For starters we had 3 dips with flat bread (very similar to and probably was Lebanese bread):
Homous – crushed chick peas ground with olive oil and seasoned with tahini. Served room temperature.
Can’t remember the name, but it was BBQed eggplant, onion and other stuff – capsicum maybe? Served cool.
Again, forgot the name – roasted eggplant, saffron, yoghurt and chick peas and probably more but I don’t remember. This was very fragrant from the saffron. Reluctant at first due to it looking like exploded bird brains I thoroughly enjoyed it with the bread. Served warm.
These came out with a couple of side salads to keep things balanced:
Tabouli – chopped parsley, tomato and garlic dressed in lemon juice.
Don’t think this one had a name, just a cucumber, onion and tomato salad with dried herbs on top.
We then had vine leaves wrapped around rice. I’m still undecided about these:
Next came the char-grilled meats. We each had a plate of basmati rice to go with them. Oh happy days:
Kufta – lamb mince char grilled on flat skewers and seasoned with magic and love among other conventional ingredients.
Chicken and lamb shish kebabs – marinated chunks of meat char grilled over hot coals to perfection accompanied by tomatos that have enjoyed a similar fate.
By this stage everyone was struggling to continue eating. Many a belt were loosened and the momentum had well and truly come to a standing halt. However due to the sheer deliciousness we soldiered on until that last chunk of lamb was finished.
And then dessert came. How silly, we got so carried away with the mains we completely forgot. Oh well if they insist. Both – yes, that’s 2 – desserts came accompanied with fragrant, delicious cinnamon tea:
Baklava – a Turkish sweet composed of layers of sugar-glazed pastry lined with crushed almonds. Delicious.
This ice cream is a little different. We were told that it was Persian style ice-cream and is hand made by the chef at the restaurant. I think it has pieces of pistachio nut in it but the really interesting ingredients are the rose water and saffron flavouring! After coming this far I still hesitated but once I’d had some I couldn’t get enough. It was fantastic!
So there you have it, is that a review? I don’t know but I cannot shout enough praise for this place. I don’t even really know if this qualifies as traditional Armenian cuisine seeing as there were so many mixed influences, but the food was amazing – I’m not biased one bit.
Our 2 waitresses were attentive and very helpful to explain the foods and their ingredients. Service was excellent and casual enough and made for some lovely conversation with the wait staff who were more than happy to take the time to accommodate for this bunch of newbies.
The restaurant itself is cosy, and I couldn’t see it seating any more than 40 people but is overall clean and elegant with interesting artwork. The atmosphere is casual and easy going and very friendly but I wouldn’t hesitate having a more intimate dinner just for 2 either.
And the kicker? That banquet was only $30 per head. Considering the quality and quantity of the food this is an absolute steal. I almost felt bad that we got extra bread and dips and weren’t charged for them, not to mention the unlimited soft drinks. You do however need a group of 5 or more to qualify.
I don’t know how they do it for the price but they’ve been there for 6 years and seem quite good at what they do and I hope they’re happy to keep at it for many years to come. As we left I was informed that on Sundays they hold a buffet for $28 per person. From memory it consisted mostly of salad, bread and char grilled meats. I must go back.
The rest of the photos can be found in the gallery: Ani Restaurant.