Cafe Advieh, 71B Gamon St, Seddon. Phone: 0432 241 276
More often than not, Bennie gets over-ridden when it comes to choosing where we go to eat.
He’s a bit of a homebody at heart, so his dad’s wandering eye often has his eyes rolling.
He tolerates with good humour my restless adventuring.
But, really, instead of the long haul to Coburg or Deer Park – or even Sunshine or Moonee Ponds – he’d generally stay at home or within walking distance.
Today he gets his way – and we have a spectacularly fine lunch as a result.
We’d taken Cafe Advieh for a review outing early in its life, and have been back periodically – mostly ordering what we had the first time, the mixed grill plate.
Today we take a different tack.
Bennie’s small dips platter ($10.50) looks rather modest in size but does the job.
He likes the two stuffed vine leaves, preferring them unheated as they as they hold their form better.
He likes all the dips, but rates the eggplant number the highest.
I try it – and as on previous visits am knocked out.
This coarsely textured take on a classic is simply wonderful, with a robust smokiness.
The serving of toasted Turkish bread is in correct proportion to the amount of dipping fodder, and that’s even with dad filching some to have with his meal. He lets me eat most of the kalamata olives, too!
This puts to shame the lacklustre dips platters served at so many cafes.
My zucchini plate ($14.50) has more of the same very good hummus and yogurt, cucumber and dill.
The latter goes well with my zucchini fritter.
This, too, is unheated and all the better for it. It’s quite wide but rather thin, nicely salty, and its unheated stature gives it a nice leathery chewiness. Leathery in a totally good way!
My two salad choices are amazingly, lip-smackingly fine.
The coleslaw is not so much slaw in the common mayo meaning of the word but more a regularly dressed salad. Its mix of two types of cabbage, onion and carrot is homely, crunchy, heavy with lemon and utterly moreish.
So often I’ve been served – often, surprisingly, in kebab places that should know better and care more – tabbouleh that is an unappetising jumble of dry, undressed parsley and bulgar.
As far as I’m concerned – and based somewhat on repeated makings of the version found in Claudia Roden’s Arabesque – it should be damp almost to the point of dripping wet.
As it is here, with even more of a lemon accent than the coleslaw.
On the evidence of this lunch and others, Cafe Advieh has mastered the terrific trick turning out food that is refined but also has more than a few rough edges.
That is likewise reflected in a slice of tremendous house baklava ($4) with which I reward Bennie for making such a great lunch call. As on previous visits, it’s luscious and heavily scented with individually identifiable spices.
As a friend sitting at an adjacent table – Hi, Peter! – remarks, this is Middle Eastern food that seems less like restaurant fare and more like home cooking.