Mecca Bah

( I have to prewarn you that the lighting in the restaurant we were at was criminal for photography….The falalfel photos did NOT turn out….so sad about that. And most of the photos, have a hand holding a lit-up mobile phone in desperate attempt to direct some sort of lighting towards the food.)

A learning curve is always good, especially if it happens early in the piece I think. As per usual I get more than my fair share of the ‘how not to’s and the ‘so that is why you don’t do that’ experiences. And here is what I learned from my first food blogging dinner out!
Note to self: Saturday nights are BAD nights to go out for food blogging! Can you tell I never go out? Yes, we picked a Saturday night to go to Manuka to eat! Without a booking. Hehe. The plan was to stroll around and soak up the atmosphere as we looked for the place that ‘felt’ right.

Tracey and I strolled… well, actually, stop right there. You couldn’t call what I was doing ‘strolling’. This jeans and shorts girl wore a dress! And ‘because it was such a long dress, I wore my super high heels so I wouldn’t trip on the dress. So off course now I was tottering around trying not to trip on my HEELS. The heels hurt, so there was no gracefulness and my handbag is actually a backpack so there was really no delicate way to hold it. The upside of the backpack was that it was big enough to hide my lower-than-usual-neckline so I clutched it gratefully around my bosoms. Picture Nanny Mcphee on a big night out, if you will. Poor Tracey.

(here is the rotten dress, and the rottener shoes, before they caused me pain)
I had left my list of possibilities behind, so we worked off my memory. Ginseng, Legend or Saffron. In the end we ditched them all and went with Mecca Bah due to its ambience. But alas…FULLY BOOKED!
‘Book the next sitting and come back’ the waiter said. So we did.
We decided to go to Verve, which is right on one of the corners of Manuka and have a snack while we waited. That place was packed! Hopping with a lot of big groups. Once this little recluse acclimatised to all the noise, I could feel that it was a friendly vibe. We were quickly watered and fed. The maître d’ was a little preoccupied, but meh!; I would have been too.
Trio of House Made dips served with grilled pita $12.90
The dish was good and filling. It was not the best Turkish bread I have had, tasting a little like packet mix, but it was toasted and drizzled with olive oil and looked pretty! Needed salt, and there was a lot more bread than dip to scoop up into it. This girl likes a whole lotta dip!
The dips were mild, not in the least bit garlicky or salty (note that I need salt AND garlic, on pretty much anything savoury.). Both the carrot and the beetroot dips were sweetish and used freshly grated vegetables, not pureed. The capsicum dip was slightly more tangy and spicy and was my pick of the three.
So back we tottered to the Mecca Bah, where we were ushered straight in without even checking our names. The first thing I asked the waiter who took our drink orders was what the dish the restaurant was most noted for was. He was a little startled but quickly came up with an enthusiastic ‘Well chef’s lamb pizza is the probably our most popular dish’
I was rather disappointed on two counts:
1. On the way, I had told Tracey that the one thing I knew I wasn’t going to eat was pizza because I have it a lot and I make a great pizza! (if I say so ma-self!)
2. I adore all Middle Eastern cuisine having grown up on it……well, NEARLY all. I do NOT like the pides (pizzas) or the tabbhouli….’cause what is it with all that parsley?
But, this was for research, so I decided I had to ‘take one for the team’.

For entrée we ordered:

Sweet potato falafels, on tahini sauce $10 (unphotographed due to bad lighting and bad handling of new lens)

I have had a lot of experience with falafels in my time, some not pleasant….it can be overcooked, cooked in bad oil, made with non-fresh ingredients, or worse it comes out of a packet. The best falafel I have ever had was at a takeaway stall at the local Croydon Park primary school. Generous balls, golden and crisp on the outside and steaming hot, delicately spiced chickpeas filling within.
When the falafels landed on our table I was a little disappointed. They were small and dark, and I thought ‘overcooked!’ but one crunchy bite into my first ….I was transported straight back to Croydon Park. Perfect!!! The sweet potato filling was only a little sweet and I could identify garlic, cumin, coriander and lemon in it also.
The tahini sauce was light and mild and I wondered if it had a little yoghurt in it? I would love the recipe!

Kataifi pastry filled with Middle Eastern cheeses $12
This pastry is intriguing! I first saw it on MKR with Veronica and Shadi’s winning dessert. When I had my first mouthful of these little pastries, I spent ages trying to figure out what the pastry was made of, as it nearly tasted like it may have had a bit of parmesan through it (Kataifi is actually a shredded pastry resembling shredded wheat)
And inside the spun crunchiness of the pastries was a taste explosion of creamy cheeses (I am guessing labne and feta) with a smattering of pine nuts. I wanted to just eat those all night.

Main: Garlic chicken kebab, mjaddarah, yoghurt sauce & tabouleh $22.50

The chicken was cooked perfectly. Succulent moist cubes on a skewer. Mjaddarah is real Middle Eastern comfort food….rice, lentils and onions. It is something I have wanted to learn to cook first and then learn to cook well. It was delicate; maybe a little too delicate; it wanted a tad more grease and salt.

Pizza-Spit roasted lamb, rocket, yoghurt & sumac $20.50
There was a lot to like. No parsley for one thing!!! 🙂 The meat was laid on the pide in tender grilled strips. The sumac added a nice light tang to the rich lamb and the bread, and the yoghurt drizzled over it was yum. I steered clear of the rocket to be honest; I eat enough rabbit food every other day to want to face it on naughty day. It was a shame the pizza got a little soggy on the bottom.

Dessert: ICE-CREAMS, 3 SCOOPS $9.50 (on the menu it is a little confusing as each flavour has the $9.50 price against it, but it is 3 scoops for that price.

We were pretty nearly stuffed; ok we were full as googs, so we decided to share a plate of 3 scoops of ice-cream.
Baked apple: You have to try this. I don’t know how they do it! I kept saying. ‘They should call it Apple Crumble ice cream’…but no that description wasn’t quite right …Know what it tastes like? Apple Pie! How can ice-cream taste like Apple pie? Try it! Tell me what they put in it!
The Halva ice-cream was easily identified also, with chunks of halva through it. I loved it.
The Plum and Vanilla was a little ambiguous….I guess I could taste the vanilla….

Tracey and I relished the food at Mecca Bah overall. One of the very best things about it(probably just as important as its ambience) is its waiting staff. Friendly, efficient, constantly checking our drinks were full. And as we left, the waiter who had recommended the pizza, but had actually not served us anything beyond our drinks, came over as we were paying, to ask if we had had the pizza after all. I got a real sense from their behind the scenes banter with each other as we were leaving, that they enjoy each other’s company as well, a staff that gets along.

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