Sometimes it’s hard for me to tell whether it’s my overly strict and traumatising upbringing that influenced my views, or some parents just don’t parent. Your toddler won’t stop pointing and yelling at someone at the next table, you smile at him and let him continue through the night. Your toddler throws his dummy at someone else, you apologise to the person briefly but smile at your child. Your toddler deliberately smashes his plate of chips, you laugh and ask him lightheartedly why he would do that. One of your friends decides to lean in and tell your toddler how amazing he is.
Relevance to this entry? Well, for the big first half of tonight, we’re seated right next to a table consisting of just this little toddler guy who did all of the above but whom I shall not call a brat, with a mother or carer who did all the above spoiling but whom I shall not call a terrible parent, and her two fellow diners who laughed along but whom I shall not call enablers. For all I know, little guy here could have a disability and not just a product of poor parenting. I also continued to remind myself that any negative feelings I might feel in the beginning was probably out of the restaurant’s control.
Anyway! Sammy’s Gymea!
The Actual Part About Sammy’s Gymea
So I may not be a huge fan of the lethal garlic breath Lebanese cuisine tends to give me after, but when Richard told me that he and a mate, two full-grown men, with a healthy appetite after a long day of digging and paving struggled to finish the medium platter from Sammy’s, I knew it’s a meal for me! (Richard later theorised that they had loaded up on bread before the dishes arrived.)
We came here at 6 pm tonight the Saturday night, and was pretty surprised to find the place already packed, but had only one waitress who was running around and struggling to handle the reception plus the 5-6 tables alone. We easily forgave her for taking a while to get the menu and our water.
The biggest meal of Sammy’s Gymea appears to be the Large Mixed Platter ($85 dine-in; $76 takeaway), which comes with:
- skewers: 4 chicken breast, 4 lamb, 4 kafta
- dips: garlic, baba ghannoush, hummus
- Lebanese-style tabouli salad
- 6 pieces of falafel
- a choice of vine leaves or sambousek (cheese or minced meat)
And therefore was what we ordered for the two of us because should there be any leftovers, we could just take them home with us. Spoiler: there were no leftovers.
First to arrive were our dips and salad, but we had to wait and ask the very busy lone waitress for our bread before we could get started. The pita came in its plastic packaging — the standard way they’re served here according to Richard’s previous experience and as evident from the next table (the other next table, not the one with little guy whom I shall not call a brat).
My favourite of the dips was initially the smoky baba ghannoush, but after an entire meal of heavy flavours, my preference gradually shifted to the milder hummus. The garlic dip was super garlicky!
Sambousek / sambosek / sambosak / sombosik… samosa! We had a choice between that and the vine leaves for our platter, and picked that with two cheese and two minced meat. I liked the meat version more as the cheese pastry didn’t quite have enough filling.
Didn’t think this mezze plate would be the highlight for me, but the falafel balls were piping hot and so, so good. We also got 7 of them instead of 6 on the menu!
The last of the large meal to arrive were the skewers of lamb, chicken breast and kofta, de-skewered. Richard said the lamb pieces were more tender than the ones he had the other day, but we both thought the chicken breast, while freshly and nicely barbecued, could use a bit more marinating. I couldn’t pick a favourite out of the meats and wanted to enjoy this dish more than I actually did.
If our experience tonight at Sammy’s Gymea is anything like a typical night on the weekend, I make the following recommendations:
- Come here after 7 pm, dine in or takeaway.
- Get the falafel and eat them hot and fresh!
- If you decide to dine in and spot a restless little boy with medium-length curly blond hair, whom you shall not call a brat, among the diners, ask to sit far far far away.
- Better yet, get takeaway. The platters are $9 cheaper, too.