New bar spy - AALIA

Beaut Decor & Unique Flavours: Could This Be Sydney's Best Middle Eastern Restaurant?

Published . By Jasmine Lee Kennedy.



Now Open

From Esca, the brilliant brains behind NOUR, Henrietta and Cuckoo Callay, comes something very exciting indeed. Introducing AALIA – a new Sydney CBD restaurant that takes you on a journey through the lesser-known flavours of the Middle East.

Found in the former MLC Centre, this dining destination is a bit of a stunner. It's elegant and chic, with unique architecture by Matt Darwon (you may recognise his work from Automata), who echoed the design of the former premises. Think American oak timber, moulded into curved columns and ceilings, as well as luxe leather booths, sultry mood lighting and ambient sounds. That’s date night sorted, then.

But what’s really got us in a tizzy at AALIA? The food. After burying his head in 10th-century Arabian cookbooks, Paul Farag (former head chef of Monopole and NOUR) uncovered previously forgotten ingredients. He then created a menu that reimagines Middle Eastern cuisine and champions the rich cultural diversity of the region.

Kick things off with a round of raw plates and mezze, which includes bites such as beef nayyeh and pharaoh's foie gras. Once you’ve whetted your appetite, it’s time for the real star of the show. Choose from seafood, meat or vegan delights, such as the lamb neck shawarma that's fragrant with tarator and pickles, served alongside Saida saj. And if you get thirsty? There’s a fantastic selection of wine and beer, as well as signature cocktails. Our favourite is the Guava 75, which combines cognac, spiced guava, verius and NV Taittinger Champagne.

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