Oasis Bakery, 993 North Rd, Murrumbeena. Phone: 9570 1122
Stumbling across Oasis Bakery a few weeks before, while cruising around prior to meeting a pal for lunch nearby, had been a wonderful surprise.
Far less surprise had been subsequently discovering that while this place is new to me, it is very popular and has been documented rather widely.
I’m returning for several reasons – a Sunday drive, to have some lunch, to do some shopping.
Some of the online comments I have read conclude the place has lost some of its allure since a remake.
I have no knowledge of its previous look and/or configuration, so am happy with the now.
Oasis Bakery comes across as something of a Middle Eastern version of a combined Brunetti’s of Carlton and A.Bongiovanni & Son of Seddon.
There’s a cafe dining area at the front, but Sunday lunchtime seating is at a premium.
There are also quite a few long-legged tables, but these are without stools, as that particular seating apparently contravened regulations, so is gone for the meantime. I’m happy enough to eat my lunch while standing for 10 minutes, as a number of other “overflow customers” are doing.
Lunch first, shopping second.
Ordering is done at a fast food franchise-style counter, and customers are issued with one of those buzzer doodads that vibrate when your meal is ready.
I bypass the various wraps and lovely looking salads, the sizable range of pizzas, and all the hot dishes except one – the lamb okra.
This is the second time in a week I have ordered a dish with okra, and I do much better this time.
My lamb/okra stew is rather plain and mild in the seasoning department, but is delicious in its own way.
The lamb is tasty, but is in sliced rather than chunk form.
There’s tomato, onion, garlic (I think), while delightfully crunchy texture comes from pine nuts and (I later discover) slivered almonds.
Then there’s the plentiful okra.
I love okra.
So I love the unctuous nature of my stew … one man’s unctuous is another man’s slime.
It’s all served up in an earthenware plate on a solid bed of rice.
It’s a good-sized serve, a splendid lunch and worth every cent of the $13 I pay for it.
Immediate appetite satisfied, it’s on to some equally enjoyable shopping.
As far as I can tell, about half of the Oasis Bakery grocery section is stocked with lines that is some way, specific or more generally, could described as of a Middle eastern bent.
The rest, be they luxury lines or staples, are the sort of thing that could be found in any good-quality food hall/grocery.
There’s an entire of wall dried fruit and nuts.
Adjacent, there’s an eye-popping range of different grains and pulses.
Some things it gladdens my heart to see, even if I refrain from indulging this time out – such as this line of “traditional Russian pasta”.
But I hone right in on the Lebanese-style pies Bennie and I have already enjoyed.
These are a little pricier than we are used to paying, but they’re worth it – the fillings are more plentiful, for starters.
These spinach and walnut pies are a good buy, though – a bag of four for $12.
As well as delightful crunch from the walnuts, they’ve got a sublime flavour whack from lemon and mint.
The lamb and pine nut jobs are pricier at $10 for a two-pack, but the filling is magic and there’s quite a lot of it.
I’ve had little luck in buying a commercial brand of turshi to replicate at home the quality turnip pickles we routinely have in restaurants.
The Oasis Bakery house brand goes a long way towards delighting.
It’s not restaurant quality, but it’s pretty good – and not mushy.
The Oasis range of dips and salads looks outstanding, but Bennie and I found the hummus to be both bland and bitter, so this time I make do with a tub of spiced labneh.
It’s treat time!
This orange-flavvoured Turkish delight is all class – delicious, fresh, chewy.
It won’t last long!
And, of course, my Oasis shopping endeavours are not complete without topping up on that basic Middle Eastern staple – Spongebob bikkies!
Sad to say, Oasis will not become a regular for us – the drive is too far.
But on the other hand, a drive around the bay on a nice day is just the ticket – and those Lebanese pies are definitely worth the journey.
Oasis Bakery also runs cooking demonstrations – check out the website here.