Maha, Melbourne

by lex on February 14, 2014

Maha

Maha

Maha is Shane Delia’s Middle Eastern fine dining restaurant in Melbourne. I initially came across Shane on Twitter and thought his style of cooking sounded rather interesting. When he appeared on Masterchef I became even more curious. Then SBS Feast magazine were giving away Shane’s Spice Journey DVD with every subscription – sold. Dylan loves cooking shows as much as I do and we watched all ten episodes in a matter of days. Suddenly Dylan was asking when we’d be dining at Maha.

Bad news. When I contacted the restaurant I was advised they would be closed for renovations when we’d be in Melbourne. As luck would have it Shane saw my Tweet of despair and advised they weren’t closing at that time after all. I booked us in for what I hoped wouldn’t be an awkward Valentine’s Day dinner (we once dined at a fine dining restaurant on V Day and had the most awkward dining experience of our lives. Who wants to be surrounded by couples talking in hushed tones or on first dates?)

Of course we had nothing to fear. The vibe at Maha was great. A mix of couples, families and friends were dining at the restaurant by the time we arrived. The music and restaurant were pumping. The scene was set for a delicious evening.

Valentine’s Day Menu – 5 courses – $110.00 per person / with matched wines $185.00 per person

  • wagyu kibbeh neya, egg yolk, olive oil powder, smoked garlic
    (2009 bernard metrat ‘clos de la roilette’, fleurie, france)
  • truffle fava, almonds, crayfish
    honey and soy roasted seeds
    blistered tomatoes, cumin, coriander, ginger
    (2010 telmo rodriguez ‘el transistor’ verdejo, rueda, spain)
  • turkish cured salmon, tahini potato salad, spring onions
    chicken tagine, sultana, fig, corn bread crumb
    (2011 chateau d’esclans ‘whispering angel’ rose, provence, france)
  • ‘shawarma’ 12 hour roasted lamb, pickled onions, roquette, candied beets, hummus
    (2010 dalwhinnie ‘moonambel’ shiraz, pyrenees, victoria)
  • honey curd, sesame tuile, lemon thyme sherbet, caramelised white chocolate
    ‘sutlac’ rosewater, pistachio crumble, toasted marshmallow ice cream
    pomegranate molasses and dark chocolate parfait, peanut butter caramel
    (campbells rutherglen topaque, rutherglen, victoria)

wagyu kibbeh neya, egg yolk, olive oil powder, smoked garlic.
2009 bernard metrat ‘clos de la roilette’, fleurie, france.

Our first little taste of Shane Delia’s food was a beautifully presented bowl of steak tartare, or kibbeh neya in Lebanese. But this wasn’t just any old meat, this tartare was wagyu. With a golden egg yolk perched on top we finished preparing the dish ourselves with a little mixing. First up the texture of the chopped shallots was a great pairing with the silky egg yolk and fine diced beef. Smoky undertones of garlic really pulled everything into a smooth and punchy start to the meal. The paired gamay had a tannic mouthfeel and a short finish, nicely matched to the beef.

wagyu kibbeh neya, egg yolk, olive oil powder, smoked garlic

wagyu kibbeh neya, egg yolk, olive oil powder, smoked garlic

truffle fava, almonds, crayfish
honey and soy roasted seeds
blistered tomatoes, cumin, coriander, ginger.

2010 telmo rodriguez ‘el transistor’ verdejo, rueda, spain.

Our second course comprised of three bowls, each with its own enticing filling; fava bean puree, roasted seeds and a tomato salad. Served with freshly baked pita we could mix and match as we pleased. But first to try everything individually.

truffle fava, almonds, crayfish / honey and soy roasted seeds / blistered tomatoes, cumin, coriander, ginger

truffle fava, almonds, crayfish / honey and soy roasted seeds / blistered tomatoes, cumin, coriander, ginger

I dove straight into the small bowl of seeds. Sweet honey and salty soy married well with hints of cumin. The seeds were rather moreish all on their own but I had a feeling they’d go rather well with the fava.

honey and soy roasted seeds

honey and soy roasted seeds

Next up was the fava bean with crayfish which, from the menu description, I couldn’t work out what would have more prominence. The creamy fava bean with truffle oil was a revelation, the flavour unlike anything I’ve ever had. The puree itself was creamy and buttery, followed up by pungent truffle oil, acidic kick from the pickled almonds and then when you least expected it the crayfish appeared out of nowhere and held its own against the somewhat stronger flavours of the dish. Absolutely delicious.

truffle fava, almonds, crayfish

truffle fava, almonds, crayfish

Last but not least were the blistered tomatoes. Big, bold and complex there was a lot going on with the tomatoes but the herbaceous parsley levelled out the acidity. Coriander and tomato always work well together but what really made this combination was the crunchy pita bread, hints of cumin and ginger. One of the best fattoush salads I’ve ever eaten.

Each morsel was tasty enough as it was but it was great to be able to play around with combinations and create new flavour explosions along the way. Heaped on a pita and sprinkled with some seeds the crayfish was excellent.

blistered tomatoes, cumin, coriander, ginger

blistered tomatoes, cumin, coriander, ginger

turkish cured salmon, tahini potato salad, spring onions
chicken tagine, sultana, fig, corn bread crumb.

2011 chateau d’esclans ‘whispering angel’ rose, provence, franc.

Course three was composed of two rather different dishes, the first being Turkish cured salmon. The cure contained sumac which imparted a wonderfully tangy/sweet tone to the fish while the salt hit was nicely balanced with the creamy sauce and spring onion in the tahini potato salad (you’ve got to love a potato salad that doesn’t include mayonnaise!)

turkish cured salmon, tahini potato salad, spring onions

turkish cured salmon, tahini potato salad, spring onions

The second part of course three was a gorgeous dark brown and glossy tagine. In an instant the garam masala hit with an emphasis on clove. Beautiful spice equalled by sweetness in many ways – onions and sultanas but most of all figs. Sweet and spice dancing in harmony all around the chicken which pulled apart easily and proved to be the perfect protein to carry the flavours. But it didn’t stop there, cornbread crumbs and nuts brought just the right amount of texture to finish off an excellent dish. A glass of rosé took me by surprise in matching the big flavours well.

chicken tagine, sultana, fig, corn bread crumb

chicken tagine, sultana, fig, corn bread crumb

‘shawarma’ 12 hour roasted lamb, pickled onions, roquette, candied beets, hummus.
2010 dalwhinnie ‘moonambel’ shiraz, pyrenees, victoria.

The last savoury course was none other than shawarma! Multiple bowls again featured in this round – hummus, rocket salad and the most prized of all, 12-hour roasted lamb. The aromas hit the table before the food did.

'shawarma' 12 hour roasted lamb, pickled onions, roquette, candied beets, hummus

'shawarma' 12 hour roasted lamb, pickled onions, roquette, candied beets, hummus

Wow. Garlic, sumac, cumin, it was all there in the lamb. Oh the lamb. Full of flavour with a suitably charred edge the meat fell apart at the slightest touch. Piled up on a pita with lashings of hummus and some salad leaves for a little pepperiness and sharpness, the lamb was simply out of this world.

'shawarma' 12 hour roasted lamb

'shawarma' 12 hour roasted lamb

pickled onions, roquette, candied beets

pickled onions, roquette, candied beets

pita

pita

honey curd, sesame tuile, lemon thyme sherbet, caramelised white chocolate
‘sutlac’ rosewater, pistachio crumble, toasted marshmallow ice cream
pomegranate molasses and dark chocolate parfait, peanut butter caramel.

campbells rutherglen topaque, rutherglen, victoria.

Multiple savoury courses and many dishes later we arrived at dessert. The waitstaff accommodated our request to delay dessert a short while as we’d been eating all day and needed a small break. When three plates of dessert came out I didn’t know whether to rejoice or cry. I couldn’t wait to try them all but at the same time I was concerned my dessert stomach would fail me, as I’d been punishing it all day.

honey curd, sesame tuile, lemon thyme sherbet, caramelised white chocolate / 'sutlac' rosewater, pistachio crumble, toasted marshmallow ice cream / pomegranate molasses and dark chocolate parfait, peanut butter caramel

honey curd, sesame tuile, lemon thyme sherbet, caramelised white chocolate / 'sutlac' rosewater, pistachio crumble, toasted marshmallow ice cream / pomegranate molasses and dark chocolate parfait, peanut butter caramel

As I’ve mentioned before I’m not the world’s biggest fan of pistachios, so I opted to start with the bowl of ‘sutlac’ to get it out of the way so to speak. Hidden beneath the pistachio crumble was an intensely scented and flavoured rosewater rice pudding which overwhelmed the crumble. With the rosewater dominating the pistachio crumble really took a back seat in this dessert. Marshmallow ice cream was an absolute cracker but not enough to balance the pudding for me.

'sutlac' rosewater, pistachio crumble, toasted marshmallow ice cream

'sutlac' rosewater, pistachio crumble, toasted marshmallow ice cream

Caramelised white chocolate in the second dessert took on a honeycomb-like edge, joining the massive honey hit from the silky honey curd. Accompanied by lemon thyme sherbet with its slightly lemony slightly thyme factor and of course the crisp, delightfully crunchy sesame tuile. A gorgeous dessert.

honey curd, sesame tuile, lemon thyme sherbet, caramelised white chocolate

honey curd, sesame tuile, lemon thyme sherbet, caramelised white chocolate

Luckily I had room for one more dessert. A disc of pomegranate molasses and dark chocolate parfait, peanut butter caramel, coated in dark chocolate and decorated with love hearts. Not for the faint hearted, these babies were rich. Really rich. I’ll admit after a few days of solid eating I almost failed to finish. Almost 😉

pomegranate molasses and dark chocolate parfait, peanut butter caramel

pomegranate molasses and dark chocolate parfait, peanut butter caramel

Maha surpassed all expectations. Each course took us on a little journey, providing insights into the food of various parts of the Middle East. Some familiar flavour combinations and some new. Classics made modern through twists and technique. Maha is so very different from the majority of restaurants around town and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. Exciting and enticing.

espresso

espresso

Maha
21 Bond Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9629 5900
Maha Website

Maha Restaurant on Urbanspoon

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post: