Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sightseeing and Eating Melbourne - Part 3

So this was our final full day of our Melbourne long weekend, though only a partial day for me, as I had to work.

After work, we took a quick stroll into Bourke St Mall for a last peek at the shops. I didn't really buy much during this trip, and I think I was feeling a little empty with the lack of shopping bags.  The General Pants store had a display of thong lights in the window, and it contrasted nicely with the street art in nearby Union Lane.

And another thing... I'm glad I don't have to drive in Melbourne.  Those right-hand turns across tram tracks really freak me out (and I'm a pedestrian!).  I think Bill Bryson described it really well - to turn right, you stop as far left on the intersection as you can, and as the lights turn red, you make your right turn just as the other cars mow you down.

 Dinner on our last night was at Maha.  I was keen to try this CBD restaurant after reading about it on Melbourne blog SpatulaSpoonSaturday.  Maha has Mediterranean/Middle Eastern influences, and is co-owned by George Columbaris of the Press Club and Hellenic Republic empire.

The waitstaff at Maha are really knowledgeable about the menu, no mean feat considering that most of the dishes have Moroccan/Middle Easter or Arabic names.  You can order from the a la carte menu, but most tables seemed to go for the soufra, which is an individually-tailored menu for your table.  There is a 4-course soufra for $70 per person (which we had), or a 5-course soufra, which includes soup, for $80.

Don't let the term 'four-course' mislead you - you get lots of smaller dishes within each course.
I won't describe each course, as I'll probably get the names wrong, but you'll get an idea of the breadth of flavours (and the amount of food), which I thought were superb.

Berid mezze are small cold dishes.   A great start to the meal, and the lamb kofta (on skewer in a glass) were a standout - so tasty.

Sokhoun mezze are small hot dishes, and the vine-wrapped stuffed quail leg was my favourite here.  The garfish I found a little bitter.

Saheen kbeer are large dishes of meat and fish, and we were presented with a 12-hour slow-cooked lamb that was incredibly tender.  Of the mouabalet (sides), the fattouche salad was tangy enough to offset the richness of the lamb, though the fried pita bread pieces were a touch oily.

Ah, helwayet (desserts)!  Each table receives different dishes, but everyone seems to get the 'famous maha doughnuts' filled with Turkish delight. The doughnuts were fairly doughy and sweet, and I much preferred the passionfruit brulee/pannacotta.  The dollop of yoghurt on the strawberries was also more to my taste, as its astringency was a welcome relief to the sugary doughnuts.

I just had to photograph the bill - it comes in a box shaped like a book, and the box also contains the business cards of the other restaurants in the empire.  Good marketing!  Overall, I enjoyed our meal at Maha.  It's a great introduction to a more different cuisine, and the 'tasting' or mezze concept gives you a wide range of flavours.

Maha is at 21 Bond St, Melbourne.  Ph: 03 9629 5900.  It is open for lunch (Mon-Fri) and dinner (Mon-Sat). 

Oh, there's one more meal we had in Melbourne.  But I'll leave it for another time.  Hope you enjoyed the Melbourne adventures.  I had a brilliant time and want to go back for a longer visit soon.  So many places to eat and shop...*wistful sigh*.

Maha Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon


  1. You were obviously well-researched going into your trip to Melbourne!

    Maha looks great and the four course looks like a good deal with a great deal of food :)

  2. My sister and I almost ate at Maha when we were in Melbourne earlier in the year but changed our minds at the last minute. I think we'll have to address this when we're there in January! I love it when you get dishes within dishes, and I must try those doughnuts! Turkish delight = joy

  3. Wowee! that looks like a beautiful meal! I love Melbourne, and feel long overdue a visit.

  4. DROOLL!!! I want to go to Maha so bad! The lamb, oh so much lamb. And those doughnut! I know they weren't you're favorite but the doughy-jammy sweetness is just up my alley!

  5. It looks like so much food! I have finally booked in for Maha in a few weeks, can't wait to try it!

  6. hi Food.4.two - I like to be prepared when it comes to eating out! In fact, I panic a bit if my plans don't work out, probably because I don't like being hungry - but then, who does?

    hi Conor - Maha is definitely worth a visit. Hope you get to go there, as the food and service are great.

    hi Reemski - oh, so you're a Melbourne-lover too! It's a great place for a holiday!

    hi Maria - lol! If that's the way you are about doughnuts, then you'll love the turkish delight ones at Maha.

    hi Rilsta - ooh, good. Are you going for lunch or dinner? If you are having the soufra, then don't eat too much beforehand!