A friend held her birthday dinner at Mecca Bah in Manuka. I had been to Mecca Bah twice before (pre-blogging days), but had never been that impressed with it. Offering Middle Eastern, Turkish and Moroccan cuisine, there is quite a lot of variety on the menu. There are so many patterns and textures that decorate the restaurant from latticework on the pillars, patterned plates to the patches of carpet on the brick floor. Drapes cover the back wall, and combined with the warm glow from the orange down lights, it made me feel like I was in a Moroccan tea room. It’s all very cosy especially if you get a seat near the copper teepee hood fireplace.
I was surprised to see a mocktail menu (yay!) and ordered a mocktail with Turkish apple tea, orange, cinnamon and other yummy tasting items. I forgot the actual name of the mocktail and the price (whoops). A friend ordered one of the cocktails with Turkish apple tea in it too.
The first thing I spotted that I definitely had to order was the duck baklava ($14). Yes, duck baklava! I’ve never seen that on a menu before. I love duck and I love baklava, so this combination was a must try. Four triangles arrived – the pastry top glistened with a sweet syrup topped with crushed pistachios. The pastry itself was thin, flakey and light. The rest of the baklava was made up of minced and finely chopped duck meat which provided a smooth texture. The flavour was distinctly duck. I thought the combination of duck and baklava worked well. I liked that the sweet aspect cut through the savoury duck meat to ensure it wasn’t too heavy. Worth a try!
Next were the Moroccan potato cakes filled with goats cheese and pine nuts ($11). These were very soft inside but weren’t exactly ‘filled’ with goats cheese (this was on top) or pine nuts. I found they were a little too bland for my liking.
The Lamb sfiha, an open pastry with spiced lamb, tomato, mint and lemon ($12), was pretty much a lamb meatball on puff pastry. The lamb was delicious and full of flavour. The pastry flakey, buttery and light. A very tasty little treat.
Going on a duck journey, I decided on the duck pizza ($25) for my main which consisted of crispy skin duck with saffron hollandaise sauce, glazed orange and shaved almonds. I was really glad with my choice when it was placed in front of me. I’ve never had a Moroccan-style pizza before. This was shaped like a catseye with the ends of the pizza dough folded over to hold all the toppings in. The pizza dough is very thin, almost like Lebanese bread, but it does the job. I was happy with the portion size and generous portion of shredded duck meat which suited the $25 price. I absolutely loved the saffron hollandaise sauce which is house made. It was a brilliant match to the duck. The shaved almonds gave the pizza a crunch factor which I never knew I wanted until now. The slices of orange provided some freshness to lift the dish and helped to bring out the beautiful natural flavour of duck. I really enjoyed eating this pizza and would order it again.
My partner J ordered the lamb tagine with preserved lemon, green olive and harissa ($25). To his disdain, this was piled high with fresh coriander which he hates but luckily this could be picked off easily. All tagines at Mecca Bah come served with cous cous which lies below all that sauce.
Dessert looks great so I am tempted to go back to try it as well as other items on the menu. Service is pleasant and attentive with orders taken quickly, regular checks on drink refills and food coming out at the same time. Staff even cut and served out the birthday cake to everyone at the table.
I’ve just been informed by Michelle from HerCanberra that Mecca Bah will be closing its operations in Canberra on 1 August 2015 due to unforeseen circumstances. Just when I’d discovered some great dishes! I’m not sure if it will ever be back, but there are restaurants at the Gold Coast and Cairns.
Value for money 7/10
FPJ score 22/30
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