You know when you’ve reached a place of the heart. There’s an intimacy that reminds you of velvet – soft to the touch, the coolness of loss felt as we move away. It’s this mixture of emotions I feel looking back on a night’s dining experience at Rabbath.
Owned by Patrick and Pascal Rabbath, and named in honour of their family, this tiny eatery brings us a taste of Lebanon. Through the family’s hospitality, cuisine and conversation, with each dish artfully explained as we progress from course to course, we are guided along a bespoke food journey.
The brothers, engineers by profession, present their restaurant as a tribute to their parents. They are renowned for the authenticity of their food and the attention to detail of their food preparation, bringing Lebanese food to a new audience.
Seating only 22 people, we’re fortunate to be seated at the chef’s bar looking into the kitchen. With Pascal doing consultancy work overseas, Patrick is joined in the kitchen by his nephew Adriaan (who makes our dessert) and Chef Joe Davis (ex-Gingerboy, Hellenic Republic and Hayman Island Resort). It’s a quiet, orderly kitchen where precision is key, a lot of cultural pride going into each dish.
We’re seated in a privileged position, close to the chefs, able to converse and question, the two-way conversation veering through food experiences to the cultural significance of dishes.
“Our father was a concert pianist,” Patrick tells us. “Living in Canberra, we had the privilege of attending fine dining soirées as guests. I knew that I wanted to work in hospitality; to explore something akin to the intimate experience of being in someone’s home having dinner,” he tells us, “a place where you can taste the love.”
That’s exactly what we feel as we dine. With an ‘a la carte’ menu, you can choose your favourite dishes to share, vegetarians and vegans easily catered for. However, as there are seasonal dishes on this menu that many may not be familiar with, ‘Dinner by Rabbath’ is a great choice, presenting a chef’s selection from the menu in four stages with accompanying wines, a mix of share plates and individual dishes.
Starting with a glass of Chardonnay Pinot Noir from the limestone soil of Angulong Vineyard located in Orange at the foothills of Mt Canobolas, an ancient volcano, the sparkling wine is a great palate cleanser, crisp and balanced.
Our starter is a dish of warm olives and smoked almonds served with the aniseed-flavoured Arak sagi and Sharab el-toot, a non-alcoholic mulberry syrup drink.
Looking into the open kitchen, our next course of Mezyah is being prepared. It’s an array of several dips such as labneh (freshly made yoghurt cheese), Ban’jan (a smoked tomato and eggplant ragu), za’atar, EVO and black olive powder, together with a house-baked unleavened Lebanese mountain bread, Khoubiz, for dipping, served with an Italian wine, Langhe Arneis from Luca Bosio, Piemonte, its notes of citrus, stone-fruit and honeysuckle with a mineral finish making it a great match for the rich entrée selection.
For main course, we’re provided with a feast of dishes: Costalleta, delicious lamb cutlets coated in seven spice presented with pommes frites; a 220g grass-fed yearling eye fillet or Biftek delivered from the grill to stand before being plated up in a rich clarified butter sauce; Tabouleh and Fatoush salads; and my favourite, M’loukhieh, ‘The king’s dish’, crispy skin grilled chicken in a coriander and m’loukhieh leaf rich chicken broth on a bed of rice. Our mains are served with Mocandunda ‘Single Vineyard’ Merlot from the Clare Valley.
For dessert, Baklawa, the restaurant’s signature nut pastry dessert infused with orange blossom (served from Patrick’s mother’s tray) is the best we’ve tasted, and the Halva gelato made by Joe is equally delicious! Accompanying them is Fin’jan Ahweh, the cinnamon, clove and vanilla bean-infused Lebanese coffee, roasted by Rabbath.
We finish the journey satiated with food, wine, conversation and an evening experiencing the theatre of food. We leave the table filled with thanks for an evening enriched with culture, the power of family hospitality in its most generic yet intimate sense.
Francis Loughran, from Future Food recently said: “…successful food and beverage businesses have never been just about the food. Good food, even great food, is just the starting point and by itself is not enough to make a sustainable venue: hospitality, in the true sense of the word, is the ‘special sauce’.”
If that is so, there’s a lot of ‘special sauce’ in Rabbath.
2 The Esplanade, Burleigh Heads Ph: 07 5535 4141
Open: Tues – Sat 5.30pm – 9.30pm
Note: The Chef’s selection tasting menu is $79 for four courses (min. two people) with an additional charge for wine pairing.
Good Food Gold Coast dined as a guest of Rabbath.