Abla's Restaurant
Abla's Restaurant Photo: Craig Sillitoe CSZ

109 Elgin Street Carlton, VIC 3053

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Opening hours Mon-Wed, Sat 6pm-10pm,Thurs-Fri noon-3pm, 6pm-10pm
Features Accepts bookings, Business lunch, BYO, Degustation, Gluten-free options, Groups, Licensed, Lunch specials, Vegetarian friendly
Prices Moderate (mains $20-$40)
Chef Abla Amad
Seats 90
Payments Diner's Club, eftpos, AMEX, Visa, Mastercard
Phone 03 9347 0006

There's a sense of occasion dining at Abla's. It's not that it's a lavish setting. Quite the opposite. the modestly furnished, brown-carpeted dining rooms are homely. It's that this place is such a hospitality landmark. Here since 1979, Abla Amad is still in the kitchen and still doing a round of the floor to inquire after her guests' contentedness. Abla's is about sharing, and, on Friday and Saturday the 12-course banquet (vegetarian option available) is compulsory for tables of three or more. Otherwise, you and your table-mates can pick through a long list of mezze, including delicate rice-stuffed silverbeet rolls, charry baba ghanoush, spicy lamb sausages and juicy chicken wings. On the mains, Abla's signature 'chicken and rice' is a ring of rich minced-lamb rice, pressed with pieces of cinnamon-scented chicken and topped with toasted pinenuts. Grilled lamb skewers, served with tabbouleh in a lettuce cup, are reliably tender. It's dependable, traditional Lebanese food, and about time Abla's was heritage-listed.