This is one of those place I use to go for lunch all the time (burger special) when I worked in the city. Headed up by Shane Delia, it is considered one of the top restaurants in Melbourne. With a great middle eastern atmosphere to match the food, this place is great for a night out or date.
We got the 4 course shared menu and before i even go further, it was heaps of food and we were full to the brim.
First course was hummus with lamb, almond and cashew served with a flat bread; a selection of olives; cured salmon with asparagus; salad of greens with oyster cream and pork crackling. All this was to share and was only the start of the feast ahead. The hummus was beautiful and fluffy and that lamb just made it "more than just hummus". I loved the salad with those little bits of pork crackling which gave it that crunch factor and really elevated the dish. The salmon was a good tasty way to start the meal and complimented the rest of the dishes.
Second course was zucchini, haloumi fritters served with taramasalata; Turkish dumplings with garlic yogurt, mint and pepper. I love taramasalata so I kept going back for that, however the fritters weren't anything special. Nicely fried but nothing that makes you go "wow". The dumplings I found really interesting, they were tiny bite size pieces with lamb pieces inside. I really didn't know what to expect with this and I was pleasantly surprised. It looked quite bland when it came to the table but it was actually very flavoursome.
Third course was roast lamb shoulder; fattoush; fish and; a cracked wheat pilaf with tomato and dill. The lamb was so soft and juicy but sadly by this point we were already struggling with the quantity of food. The fish was also another dish that I kept going back for more - it was beautifully crumbed. The cracked wheat pilaf didn't really do much for me. I was hoping for something with stronger flavours, but it was more on the bland side, compared to everything else served. The fattoush was served with tomato and cucumber and was the light dish - it really balanced this course out and was a great compliment.
Fourth course was dessert: there was Turkish delight filled doughnuts, mastic pudding and watermelon beetroot ice cream with rose water granita. The Turkish delight doughnut are one of my favourite things on the menu; it's oozy centre with the sticky honey, nuts and ice cream is a winning combination. The mastic pudding was a big disappointment for me. Last time I went i remembered this to be amazing and I couldn't get enough of both the pudding and the chocolate dirt. But this time... it did nothing for me, actually I didn't like it at all. The flavours were too strong, and not great scents to be strong in a dessert. I really wanted to dig a few more spoonfuls into the pearls but I just couldn't bring myself to it. The watermelon and beetroot ice cream with the granita was a nice and light finish to the meal.
Overall I would say it's a 17/20, it's not just the food here which is good but the service is always attentive. When I walked in I was seated at the bar and all the staff were friendly, our waiter checked on us at various times over the course of the meal to make sure we were enjoying ourselves. When we finished we were given rosewater for our hands. It's really the finer details here which makes it a stand out. On a side note, the bartender on the night, George, was entertaining while I waited for my friend to arrive.