I was reading a local food writer in a free alternative paper here in Adelaide, and she had enthusiastically promoted a Lebanese restaurant called Quiet Waters in Adelaide, over on Hindley Street in the City Business District. I?ll be honest?the review itself seemed?well, over the top. Only so many kinds of food can ?take your breath away? or ?leave you breathless?, and yet it seemed to happen to this reviewer every dish. But I wanted to give the reviewer the benefit of the doubt, and I love Lebanese food, so we went to try it out. It is known as a hidden gem because the restaurant is actually in the basement level of the building, so it is not easy to see from the street. The d?cor was great?dim lights, lush red velvet booths and seats, and it seemed fairly busy for a Friday night. I was excited because one of the nightly specials was kibbi, one of my favorite dishes. We started out with a trio of dips and pita bread. It took a while to get our food, but let?s be honest, that is starting to be a theme here in Australia. I think I need to just expect it now. Aussies like it slow. Bring crackers.
The dips were humus (a blend of chick peas, olive oil, tahini paste and garlic), tzatziki (a cucumber, yoghurt, mint dip) and baba ganoush (a smokey eggplant dip). They were pretty good?I never really ate the eggplant dip before coming to Australia, even though it is all over the States, and I am kicking myself in ass for it now. The smoky flavor that comes from char grilling the eggplant just resonates throughout the dip and I can?t stop craving it! I have yet to have a bad smokey eggplant dish. The tzatziki was equally enjoyable. I normally do not like fresh mint, but the dip had a nice balance of flavors, so it was not too overwhelming. The humus was just okay. I?ve eaten a lot in my day, and have yet to find one as good as Old Jerselum Caf? in Chicago (or as cheap!). The most disappointing part of this dish was that they were served with literally four triangles of pita. That?s it. For two people. I have no problem paying for more if I am being chunky and mowing down all the pita, but after eating those four slices, there was so much dip left, it felt like a punishment. Then our mains came?I had the kibbi and Adam ordered the kefta, which were spicy lamb sausages. The kibbi was awful. Typically they are little balls of ground beef and pine nuts stuffed into a bulgur wheat shell and deep fried. They had all the components, but the bottoms of the kibbi were hard and almost burned. The insides were pretty flavorless, but thankfully, we had all that dip leftover to make up for it.
The kefta was okay. It tasted pretty good, but as my partner said, it just didn?t wow us.
Okay, and here is my juvenile moment for the evening?the water came in a pitcher that looked a lot like a bong and it made me giggle. NOT THAT I KNOW WHAT ONE LOOKS LIKE. Cough. After dining at two other Lebanese restaurants a week later, I realized this is a traditional water pitcher. Silly Leena. But I’m allowed to laugh at that the first time. It says so in the rules. Don’t be a hater. All in all, Quiet Waters was just eh. I am willing to admit it may have just been an off day, but it seemed pretty consistently bad while we were there. It wasn?t horribly expensive, but it wasn?t cheap either at $40 for two people. I?ve had it better and cheaper (Old Jerselum, $20 for two people!!!). The Aussies put it best: yeah, nah. ~LTG