It’s been a few years since Andre Samra sold his Lebanese restaurant Little Beirut in Indooroopilly, but his passion for Lebanese cuisine is not a commodity that could ever be purchased. After a stint operating nightclubs and suburban cafes, Andre – along with his daughter Vanessa – are venturing closer to Brisbane’s CBD with Shawarma King, a casual dining concept that once again serves to spread the good word about Lebanese food. Shawarma King sits amongst the leafy surrounds of The Garden Pantry at West Village in a cosy nook that is a precursor for bigger plans already in motion at the West End development. At the end of October this year Shawarma King will close ahead of an evolution, of sorts. In February 2021 work will commence on Beirut Bazaar – a bricks-and-mortar restaurant and bar that will showcase the width and breadth of Lebanese cuisine (with shawarma at its core, of course). Until then, Andre is hoping to craft a following for his style of food, streamlining Lebanese cuisine’s greatest hits into Shawarma King’s menu. The concept’s slogan, ‘A taste of Beirut’, not only hints at what it to come, but also encapsulates the goal of Shawarma King – to get you hooked and craving more. Lucky for us, Shawarma King’s debut menu is surprisingly extensive considering the outlet’s physical footprint.
Unfortunately due to kitchen restrictions, a rotisserie couldn’t be installed at Shawarma King’s spot at The Garden Pantry. No matter, Andre and his team are still serving mounds of sliced meat (chicken and lamb fillets), marinated for 40 hours before being cooked to order. These meaty morsels will then be incorporated into wraps loaded with green salad, onion rubbed with sumac plus sauce (chicken served with garlic sauce, lamb with tahini) or served on top of small pita. Alternatively, patrons can opt for meat served on a bed of rice or with fattoush salad, or skip the meat entirely in favour of fluffy freshly made felafel served with hummus and salad. Shawarma King’s menu extends beyond its carved meat offering, including dishes such as Lebanese breakfast pizza (with minced lamb sujuk, cheese, eggs and Napoli sauce), fatayer (pastry parcels filled with spinach, onion and lemon), za’atar coated pita, kofta skewers, minced-lamb-filled kebbe, dips, maamoul date-filled cookies and more. Shawarma King also serves Veneziano Coffee and folks can also takeaway alcohol with their order, including Almaza (Lebanese beer) and raki. Andre plans to expand the menu significantly for Beirut Bazaar, eyeing additions such as fasoulia, slow-cooked sheep, cabbage rolls and miniature rotisserie spinners for groups to carve and serve at their table. For now, Shawarma King is open seven days for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Naturally, all orders are served takeaway for the time being. Head to the Stumble Guide for more information.