Sunday, 20 February 2011

Breakfast at Al Aseel, Greenacre

Mr FBC and I have a lot of things in common. But, there is one significant thing in life that we just don’t agree on. It’s not about religion, having kids or political views – it’s the importance (or unimportance) of eating breakfast. I’m a pro-breakfast person and Mr FBC is not. His first ‘meal’ of the day is his morning coffee. He tells me he generally can’t stomach anything until lunch. He’s trained himself over the years to eat something if we go out for ‘breakfast’ (before 10am), but it’s usually not more than toast or banana bread.  On my birthday earlier this year, Mr FBC put aside his issues with breakfast and surprised me by taking me to an early Lebanese breakfast at Al Aseel in Greenacre. Ahh - true love.
We’ve been to Al Aseel, a Lebanese restaurant in Greenacre, many a times for either dinner or lunch. I’ve previously eyed the breakfast section of the menu a coupled of times and have been intrigued ever since. It’s always fascinating to discover the equivalent of vegemite on toast or sultana bran with milk in other cuisines and cultures.
We opted to try a few things from the menu in order to get a good taste of breakfast – Lebanese style. Funnily enough, the waiter tried to reassure us that we could order anything from the menu (including the mixed meat plate etc from the dinner section) but we insisted we were after the breakfast items. I’m not sure if a meaty shish kebab or lamb kofta would sit right with me at that time of the morning.
Just like at dinner time, we were brought out a complimentary dish of tomatoes, olives and picked cucumbers to snack on along with a basket full of fresh Lebanese bread. I always make the mistake of snacking too much on these accompaniments.   
Complimentary tomato, olives and pickled cucumber

Copious amounts of Lebanese bread
First dish to try was Foul (pronouced 'ful'), the Lebanese equivalent to baked beans. This is a hearty breakfast dish of cooked and mashed fava beans mixed with olive oil, onion, garlic and lemon juice with quite a thick consistency. We ordered a small portion which was more than enough. The foul was delicious scooped up with pieces of Lebanese bread.

Next dish to try was Shanglish. This is a dried country style yoghurt served with red onions, diced tomatoes and cucumber. The dried yoghurt pretty much tastes like fetta cheese. It was a lovely combination and worked really well sandwiched between bits of Lebanese bread. We couldn't finish this dish as there was just a bit too much cheese, so we did the remaining portion home. The leftover shanglish worked perfectly for a late afternoon snack with lavosh flatbread.
The last dish to try was a large bowl of Fatteh, which could best be described as the Lebanese equivalent to a bowl of cereal or porridge.  This savoury dish, served warm, is a soupy mixture of chick peas, garlic, creamy yoghurt with a layer of crunchy fried pieces of Lebanese bread. It's topped with a sprinkling of toasted almonds and pine nuts, spring onions, paprika and olive oil. 
Bowl of Fatteh
I'm not sure if I quite managed to convince Mr FBC to join the breakfast club but even for a non-breakfast man he was reasonably impressed with the offering.  The dishes were very tasty and  filling. However, some may say too filling. Not being used to having too many legumes for breakfast, Mr FBC and I were really full for the majority of the day and needed to skip lunch. Best not to start the day with a hearty Lebanese breakfast if you're anticipating a reasonably sized lunch. A lesson for next time!

Al Aseel
Shop 4, 173 Waterloo Rd

Greenacre NSW 2190
Phone (02) 9758 6744
Sun-Thurs 9am-9pm; Fri-Sat 9am-10pm