Friday, September 17, 2010

Arabella's Charcoal and Middle Eastern Cuisine

Arabella's Charcoal and Middle Eastern Cuisine
Shop 32, The Village Shopping Plaza, 1932 Logan Road, Upper Mount Gravatt

I heard about Arabella’s from a couple of classmates in the tea room. They were planning to go there for lunch but then remembered that we had an afternoon seminar and thus only 1 hour off (including travel time to get from clinic to the seminar). The way Arabella’s was described, as a Middle Eastern restaurant that had healthy cuisine with stuff like haloumi and falafels, instantly appealed to me.

In fact, Arabella’s leapt to the top of my restaurant go-to list, beating out many other places that had been in waiting for years. What can I say, I love that kind of food. Turkish, Greek, Persian, dips, breads, grilled meat and haloumi. LOVE.

When I got there, I had the same feeling of… I don’t know… sadness? Of a restaurant either too new and unfinished or past its prime and about to close down. This time, I ignored all this, approached the counter and found what I wanted from the menu.

The Vegetarian Plate had everything I wanted: grilled vegetables, pita and dips, grilled haloumi and falafel. When I ordered, the guy looked at me and said ‘sorry, that’s not available at the moment. We don’t have any vegetable skewers’. I looked back at him blankly. He suggested falafel and I said I really wanted haloumi (thinking in my head: WHY DID I COME HERE AGAINST ALL INSTINCT). He thought for ages and decided he COULD put together the Vegetarian Plate because they had ‘some’ vegetables, just not all. He was listing the vegetables they did have in his head and said ‘yup, I could do that for you’ and he threw in to the deal an extra haloumi skewer to compensate for lack of variety of vegetable. No way I’m going to say no to that!

It took a while for the Vegetarian Plate to arrive. During that time, the poor guy I ordered from was approached by only one other customer and someone who was wearing a uniform and carrying a clipboard. I prayed for him that it wasn’t an inspector or something.

Custom-made vegetarian plate

When I finally got my food, I sighed inwardly with relief. The plate looked gorgeous. There was a pile of rice at the bottom (which I didn’t expect), grilled tomato and onion, grilled haloumi, pita, 2 dips and a side bowl of what looked like tabouli.

I went for the pita first. Soft and fresh. The dips were hummus and ‘something else’. Obviously I don’t know what the something else is called (or I’d have called it that) but it was DELICIOUS. Great flavours.

Texture of falafel

The 2 balls of falafel were unlike the greasy kebab store variety and also not too dry. Sometimes falafel makes you think that vegetarian food isn’t at all healthy (just because they’re so greasy and heavy) but these ones tasted healthy.

I tried a bit of the rice. It wasn’t plain rice but rather, had spices, flavours and bits and pieces tossed through (kinda like a pilaf). It was also delicious. I was getting full by now but wanted to have as much of the rice as possible because I liked it that much.

As for the bowl of tabouli… I normally hate tabouli. I think it’s bitter and boring. This one was fresh and slightly zangy and went really well with the rest of the components of the plate.

The grilled tomato and onion were a bit boring. I imagine if they had all the correct vegetable (I heard zucchini mentioned), it’d be a bit better. But in any case, the vegetables would be overshadowed by the rest of the meal.

You might be wondering about the haloumi. I saved that for last. It was served in chunky rectangles and grilled to a crisp on the outside. Really delicious. Typing this post right now is actually making me hungry.

My view on Arabella’s is that it needs to do something about the shop front and perhaps lower the prices by a tad. I’d pay the $16 for what I ate but in that district, food prices are very competitive so there would be people who opt for a cheaper meal, especially if they aren’t being drawn in by clever marketing to taste the food first. If the restaurant was more popular, better decked out (rather than looking bare and barren), I would go back there regularly. As it is, I’m hesitant to post this in case they go out of business soon. Anyway, if you’re reading this post, live in the area and like that kind of food, I think you should give them a try. I nearly didn’t but am glad that I did.


  1. I highly recommend this restaurant ...delicious food ...loved the BBQ meat and the was the best.

  2. I can't find the date on this post, but my family get shawarmas from there all the time. They're really, really good, and the one time I went with my parents to order them, there were a lot of people eating in the seats. We had to stand in a bit of a line, so it seems like they're surviving well. :)

  3. Hi Anonymous...

    I wrote that post back in September 2010. Glad it's doing well!