Mecca Bah7/23/2007 09:55:00 PM
A few weeks ago, a spur-of-the-moment special occasion dinner came up, so we headed down to Mecca Bah in the Docklands. I am a big fan of chef Cath Claringbold's previous, swankier offering, Mecca (Southgate), and have been meaning to try out the cheaper, trendier version for ages.
55a Newquay Promenade
They don't take bookings, so we just rocked up at around 7 on a Sunday evening and waited in line. Luckily we didn't have to wait too long. I am, in general, soo not a fan of the booking-less establishment - I like to plan ahead, and don't see the point of setting aside a whole evening for a restaurant, and waiting in line, only to be told that there's an extra hour to wait when you finally arrive at the door. *Cough*... Billy Kwong... *Cough!* However, this problem is not insurmountable - just by going on a quieter night.
The service at Mecca Bah, sadly, was quite perfunctory. Despite being a Sunday night, it was still quite busy, and it took about 20 minutes for the person in charge of welcoming patrons to actually acknowledge our presence once we'd reached the start of the queue. (I understand that it must be stressful to have to co-ordinate all the seating by oneself, but there's nothing difficult about a simple, "Good evening, I'll be with you in a minute!")
Anyway... once we were sat down and settled, we had a (lengthy) chance to peruse the interesting-looking menu before our waitress approached us.
We were lucky to get a pretty fabulous view...
The vibe inside the restaurant is Middle Eastern (duh!!), dimly-lit, and somehow busy and intimate at the same time. We really liked the funky ceiling and the lamps.
To start, we had hot Turkish bread, and delicious little crunchy kataifi pastries filled with Middle Eastern cheeses (photo above). They also have a nice wine and cocktail list, but as I was driving, I did not get a chance to try them. Next time!
For my main, I had grilled chicken on a skewer, with a dollop of sumac-flavoured yogurt, a tomato salad and a softly spiced rice and lentil mixture. I absolutely loved it!
The chicken was juicily moist, and the rice was even better - very moist and well-flavoured. It managed to taste like home food, with the sophistication of a restaurant meal. Fabulous.
My dining partner had grilled lamb, which came with similar-yet-different rice and yogurt components. The lamb was charred on the outside, and tender on the inside. Also delicious!
One aspect that I really liked about the meals was that they were a good size - satisfying, but not ridiculously huge. We weren't really in the mood for dessert - Mecca Bah offers the usual suspects: chocolate cake, sticky date pudding and so on - but we couldn't go past their Lebanese pastries, which are attractively piled high on the bar. We were especially keen when we realised that the sweets are outsourced and brought in from one of my favourite Sydney Road pastry shops, Balha's. We had a ladies' finger and a pistachio ma'amoul.
Overall, we enjoyed Mecca Bah, and despite the initially not-so-great service, ended up having a great night. I loved the food, and will definitely be back to try their famous Turkish pizzas and tagines. It worked out at about $70 for 2 people, which was very fair.