REVIEW: Abla’s Pastries, Granville

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2014

The outside of Abla’s Pastries is pretty underwhelming, its brown walls and dark tinted windows taking up one of the busier corners in Granville. It almost doesn’t look open – but it’s actually open for 18 hours of the day, from 7:30 in the morning until 1:30 at night. You can walk in and risk getting diabetes from a single visit whenever you like.

Past the (also tinted) automatic doors Abla’s is a different story – fluorescent lights illuminate every millimetre of the always decorated store. Towers of Lebanese sweets wrapped in colourful foil line the walls and are stacked on top of the long counter that stretches from the entrance right down to the kitchen, and within that counter is the reason you should go to Abla’s.

Abla’s hours are long because they are continuously baking an unbelievable variety of Lebanese pastries. Some of them are easily recognisable, like one of the ten varieties of baklawa, rolls of crispy pastry stuffed with pistachios or cashews and soaked with sugar, others I’ve not seen anywhere else in Sydney, like the magnificent karbooj, a huge semolina and pistachio pie topped with a beyond generous slab of white meringue.

You can sit in at Abla’s and enjoy a way too big slice of sweetness with a coffee, or you can order takeaway sweets by weight, making your way from one end of the counter to the other, pointing at various displays and mangling the Arabic names of each sweet as you order. If you’re sitting in, make sure you try halawat al jobn, a crazy concoction of slow cooked mozzarella cheese in sugar and semolina, topped with ashta, a clotted cream. For takeaway you’ve gotta get a few fresh lady’s arms (znoud el sit), deep fried pasty filled with ashta, soaked in sugar syrup. My favourite sweet of all is ballorieh, a simple take on baklawa with pistachios between two sheets of kataifi pastry, which looks like vermicelli noodles!

Pop into Abla’s after a meal at El Jannah down the road and get some takeaway – a plate of about 10 sweets will set you back less than $15 and makes a great little gift to anybody that doesn’t already have diabetes. The real Abla’s magic happens at 1am on a Sunday, there’s always a few families and friends enjoying a coffee and some baklawa, like it’s the most normal thing in the world to do at 1am. Enjoy it before they impose a lockout (yes I am slightly concerned about ending this article with a barely topical joke that probably won’t make any sense a year from now THE END).

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