Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Maha Bar & Grill

This week my amazing boyfriend was admitted to the bar as an offical Australian lawyer and as part of his celebration we were lucky enough to be shouted out to Maha Bar & Grill in the CBD. I was so excited and proud to see all his hard work pay off (and mine, putting up with him through 5 years of uni and an articled clerkship!), and to be able to cross off one of my top 5 restaurants in Melbourne for such a special occasion.

I particularly love reading articles about the owner of Maha (along with George Colambaris), Shane Delia, as he seems to capture everything I love about food and cooking in his outlook on food. For example, he states on the Maha website, “As long as I have good food, and family and friends to share it with, my life is complete", which is so much how I feel about my life and the role of food in our lives. The passion he has for his native cuisine and his love for hospitality was really evident in the beautiful experience we had at Maha.

Descending down the stairs we were greeted by friendly staff who took our coat and showed us to our lavishly decorated Middle Eastern style table. The level of service we recieved was wonderful. In particular, I found it very impressive how much they catered for differences in taste. Despite us all sharing the 'soufra' menu, which involves home-style tasting plates, they were completely accommodating to my partner's parents who dislike seafood (not an allergy, just a dislike) and happily matched them with seperate dishes whenever we had anything that contained seafood. Compared to dining experiences at places like Chin Chin and Mamasita, where the food is amazing but the service can be so-so, Maha's staff were patient and pleasant.

The food itself was wonderful. We started with a mezze platter with fresh, warm baked bread. The marinated olives were divine as was the poached salmon.

Second course of the soufra were also great dishes. We loved the rich flavours in chicken and fig tagine with corn bread and a runny egg. Such an interesting and unusual combination.

The duck and mushroom 'spring roll' type dish was also a hit. Crunchy pastry wrapped around salty duck mince with beautiful rich mixed mushrooms. The textures in this dish were amazing.

Our first main was a seafood dish which featured marinated Harpuka fish with a beautiful coriander sauce along with a fish mousse that we likened to a 'fish sausage'. This dish was enjoyable but the flavours were somewhat mild and unable to live up to the richness of the other dishes.

The stand-out dish of the day for everyone was the 12 hour roasted lamb shoulder. I had recently read this recipe in the latest Feast magazine and would have been devestated if it hadn't have featured in our soufra! The meat is marinated for 3 days then slow roasted at 100 degrees for 12 hours, and as you can imagine the result is pretty amazing. The tender meat just falls apart at the touch and is just wonderful served with a pistachio and green olive tabbouleh. We also had a wonderful fattoush salad and an almond rice pilaf.

 As you can imagine by now we were feeling very full and merry (our meal was accompanied by some very nice Pinot Gris from Mornington) but there was not a chance we would not fit in dessert. We were served a beautiful tasting platter with three different desserts- a chocolate and pomegranate tart, a sponge with frangelico sauce and a 'Maha' biscuit and poached pears with vanilla bean ice-cream. It was difficult to choose which of the desserts was my favourite as everyone was unique and wonderful, the perfect way to end our special lunch.

I also enjoyed the homemade Moroccan Mint Tea with fresh mint and honey. As with all the dishes, even this was exquisitely presented.

As you can probably tell by now, I would not hesitate in recommending Maha for your next special occasion. The sharing style of the meals makes it quite affordable with the four course at $45 a head. I am planning on heading back this year to try the Sultans banquet which is a more degustation style of meal. I could not fault the service, food or atmosphere at Maha. I know it is a day and a dining experience that we will all always remember.


L x

Maha Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon


  1. Hi Lauren,
    Congratulations to you and your boyfriend on his achievement. So glad to hear you had a good time celebrating at Maha. Look forward to welcoming you back again when you try the Sultans Banquet. Thanks for sharing your experience.
    Cheers Shane

    1. Thanks so much, it was so lovely of you to visit my page. I am very much looking forward to my next dining experience with you guys.


    2. Hey Lauren, So glad to hear you are looking forward to dining again at Maha!

      I thought I'd stop back here and say hi and ask if you'd considered coming along to the Problogger Food & Wine Blogger event I am hosting at Maha in a couple of weeks?

      I think you'd love it, it's going to feature Darren Rowse (Problogger himself!) and three great speakers discussing their approach to food and wine writing. I'll be cooking up an exclusive three course Maha feast (some new dishes!) for everyone and there will be some great give aways for the best questions to the panel of speakers. I'd love to see you there?

      Maybe your readers would be interested in coming with you? As a thank you for your recent post about Maha, I'd like to offer you and your readers a $10 discount off the normal ticket price for the event. Just use the promo code FOODIES when you register or share this with your readers.

      Bring your video camera, maybe you can do a quick vox pop interview with me or Darren!


      P.S. Here is the link:

    3. Hi Shane,

      I am already coming to the Probloggers event! I bought my tickets weeks ago. Both myself and my blogger cousin are already attending, and really looking forward to it :)

      Thanks for the offer for the discount though- I will pass that onto any of my foodie friends.

      We are really looking forward to meeting you! :)

  2. Hey, I just discovered your blog! It's really good. I enjoyed this review and thought I'd leave a comment to tell you so, when I reach the bottom and see that Shane Delia already has! Can't beat that :)

    1. I am glad you enjoyed :) Thanks for visiting!


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