Feel like indulging in a Middle Eastern meal or a cup of coffee in an exotic setting?
Then head on down to the Arabesque Bazaar. There you can relax with a local Silipo coffee, a Turkish or Saudi coffee, or even a cup of Arabian mint or sage tea with some baklava in the luxe interior of this shop.
Naming his restaurant after Arabian art – the intertwined flowing decorative lines found in ancient Islamic art of Petra and Istanbul, Arabesque’s owner, Saleh Alshdaifat tells us that his restaurant is not just about Arabic food, it is also about culture.
Part café and espresso bar, part restaurant, it’s a cool space filled with ornate Middle Eastern furniture, marble dining tables, velvet chairs and arabesque-designed wall hangings. Sheesha of all colours line one wall. On the counter top, cloches cover a large range of Middle Eastern pastries, glistening and lusciously inviting! How delicious a snack this makes of an afternoon – a piece of baklava or Turkish delight with apple tea.
“We have a lot of customers from the Middle East visit us, especially from Dubai and Abudabi,” Saleh tells us, “Lebanese visitors from interstate, tourists from Kuwait, Saudi and UAE…even royalty come here, because they want to eat certified Halal food; ‘mabrouk’ or blessed. It’s about trust.” He points to the current certification of the venue on the wall.
As is his custom, Saleh very generously provides us with a feast in delicious small dishes as we chat: dips such as baba ganoush, garlic dip and hummus; samosa and felafel; maklouba (upside down spiced rice with roast eggplant); tabbouleh fragrant with lemon; kibbeh, lamb and chicken roasted over organic wood charcoal, all made in house.
In late afternoons and evenings, there’s also a sheesha menu available, including a healthy hose. Flavours include Watermelon with mint, Chocolate, Grape, Berry with mint, Lemon and Apple.
For Saleh, it’s a return to the way he was brought up. After working for the United Nations as a nurse in the war zones of the Middle East, Saleh came to Australia to complete a Master of Nursing. Business is what he now loves and he’s got plans to improve his restaurant: a function room upstairs available for large groups and parties, and there’s a talented new chef arriving from Jordan in February, which will take the food to a higher level again, Saleh tells us.
Sharing small dishes together we learn about the customs of another culture and begin to understand each other. It’s an intriguing touch of the East in the middle of Surfers Paradise.
3240 Surfers Paradise Boulevard, Chevron Renaissance, Surfers Paradise Ph: 0451 150 732
NOTE: On one occasion, Good Food Gold Coast dined as guests of Arabesque.
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