Maha Bar & GrillOctober 3, 2011
For our mezzedes course, we shared a few small plates, including olives marinated in a Maltese paste called “fel fel”, which is made up of bread and chilli and had a fantastic kick to it. We also had a pide with cheese, smoked bacon and shanklish which was great and smokey (surprise surprise). There was a lovely sweet dish of beetroot that was roasted and tossed with almonds, parsley and feta.
The last two dishes were a plate of bulgar salad with pomegranate molasses and capsicum (nice, almost crunchy), and a fabulous hoummus that we ate with the soft turkish bread provided.
Our three main dishes came out together, along with a side of rice and a salad. The first I tried was the chargrilled wild barramundi with dukka and artichokes. The fish was simply awesome, probably my highlight of the meal. The barramundi (my favourite fish) had a beautiful delicate flavour and was perfectly set off with the tang of lemon and salt. The tangy artichokes were a nice touch.
Second on my list was the slow roasted lamb shoulder with pistachio and olive tabouleh. Cue salivation. This was my (other) favourite from the lunch, the lamb was super tender and melted in your mouth. The tabouleh was also excellent, I enjoyed the clean and simple flavours of the lemon and parsley. Such a tasty dish, I loved it. The waiter told us this was one of the most popular dishes on the menu, and I’m not surprised.
The accompanying rice had an aromatic and delicate flavour, it was mixed with raisins and almonds.
The final main dish we had was the bangalow pork belly with celeriac, semolina, fried cauliflower and tahini. This was also very nice, although my least favourite of the three (but still amazing). There was a nice balance of flesh and fat in the pork, and it had an excellent crackling that we all enjoyed munching on. I also loved the snazzy little cauliflower floreets.
I finished our savory courses with a refreshing serve of Fatoush, what I like to think of as the Greek Salad of the Middle-East: the perennial favourite with simple, fresh ingredients that everyone likes. I especially loved the bits of crispy flatbread and the tangy sumac and mint dressing.
Last was glyka, sweets, and we were again presented with a smorgasboard, this time of desserts. First up was the chocolate and orange sponge, a quenelle of bitter chocolate sorbet and chocolate rice crisps. The rice crisps I thought were a little disappointing, basically coco pops, but the sponge and icy sorbet were a fantastic mix.
My favourite of the desserts were the turkish delight filled maha doughnuts with almonds and rose water syrup. These were very similar to the Greek doughnuts my mum makes, crisp on the outside but soft and doughy inside, served warm. The turkish delight I thought was an inspired addition, but we would have enjoyed a larger piece in the doughnuts.
Finally, I had my portion of hibiscus jelly, yoghurt and toffeed walnuts. The yoghurt was ice cold (perhaps Maha should turn down their fridge temperature), but was the perfect foil to the super sweet jelly.
We finished the meal with Moroccan mint tea, a favourite of ours.
Upon departure, we were presented with a “little bit of Maha to take home” – DIY packs of the turkish delight filled doughnuts, complete with all the ingredients and instructions needed to make the tasty little morsels, complete with a YouTube link of chef Shane Delia making them. How considerate. I quite liked this idea, especially given how much I enjoyed those doughnuts!
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