When you say Middle Eastern food most people automatically think of their local kebab shop. And while there are some great kebabs out there Middle Eastern cuisine offers so much more. It’s a cuisine filled with flavour, colour and creativity. If this doesn’t sound like any Middle Eastern food you’ve had before then you need to check out Dukkah Restaurant.
Dukkah Restaurant oozes creativity from the moment you walk in the door. Nestled in South Kingsville, the restaurant offers a warm atmosphere designed and curated by the owners Remy and Veronica, with a bar made of a tapestry of doors, attention to detail and colour everywhere, it definitely stands out, which is a hard feat in Melbourne.
This creativity and attention to detail spills over into the food. Knowing what was coming we made sure to skip lunch before heading in because we were about to be fed, Middle Eastern style. What does that mean – we had a bit of everything, filled with fragrant spices and little twists on Middle Eastern classics.
Starting with a trio of dips, a lemon turmeric Hummus with Egyptian dukkah, Beet Labneh of caramelised beetroot & yoghurt with black sesame seeds and Fel-Fel, a char-grilled capsicum cream cheese with sweet paprika, walnuts & chives and served with a grilled Turkish bread is more than you need to start here, each had a great flavour which made it too hard to choose a favourite.
This was quickly followed with the must try Cheese Cigars, a perfect blend of mozzarella, feta and haloumi that gives you that perfect cheese pull when broken apart. And unlike many other cheese filled pastries they manage to keep the pastry flaky and not soggy. Paired with a pomegranate sauce, these are definitely moreish!
If that wasn’t enough, we indulged on Tabouli with a twist, Quinoa Tabouli Salad, a light and fresh take on traditional tabouli with quinoa, mint and lemon infused olive oil. And to finish our introduction to Dukkah, Mahshi, stuffed vine leaves with spiced rice and lemon dressing.
Each of these dishes showcased the talent and flavours of what Middle Eastern food can be when given a little love and attention. But that was just the first round.
After a short reprieve we dived into round two, Chicken Shawarma Tagine – layers of twenty-four hour marinated grilled chicken shawarma, saffron rice & pita chips topped with pomegranate & roasted almonds, Lamb Tagine – advieh spiced slow cooked lamb pieces on top of pea and apricot Moroccan couscous with lamb jus & garden salad and of course Mixed Grill – lamb kofta, chicken shish tawook, spicy beef sausage, lamb cutlet, rice pilaf, garden salad & lemon & garlic tahini sauce.
Each was as good as the last, and with every bite wanting more, the Chicken Shawarma was filled with tender chicken, pomegranate seeds and pita chips creating an amazing dish with a subtle sweetness and the perfect crunch. The lamb Tagine was the perfect blend of aromatic spices, complemented by the texture and sweetness of the pea and apricot cous-cous. And for those of you that love a classic, the mixed grill offered that little something extra. The spicy beef sausage was a great addition and was balanced with a delicious lemon and garlic tahini sauce. To have to choose a favourite of these would simply be too hard!
But before we could finish, we were told to save room for dessert and I am so glad we did, the Kunafa and Om Ali are some of the best we’ve ever tried and were definitely the perfect way to finish our visit. Starting with the Om Ali, a puff pastry pudding with a delectable mix of flavours from coconut and cinnamon to hazelnut and sultanas, and served with vanilla ice cream – this a blend of Western and Middle Eastern cooking that comes together beautifully. Followed by the Kunafa, as beautiful as it is delicious, imagine angel hair pastry, mango and cream with rose petals and pistachio – this was a perfect balance of sweet, crunch and everything in between, a stand out and must try.
Whether you’re new to middle eastern food or it’s been a favourite of yours for years, Dukkah Restaurant is a must. There is nothing more to say!
23 Vernon Street,
South Kingsville 3015
03 9399 3737