Seaside Flatbread Cafe, 34 Borrack Square, Altona North. Phone: 9391 6655
Since first spying the soon-to-be-opened Lebanese food emporium in Borrack Square, I have driven by several times to check on progress.
And I have driven away hungry and looking elsewhere – until this Saturday lunch time.
Such is my excitement, Bennie suggests I keep my expectations in check.
Fair call that – but one that proves unnecessary.
We’re told the place has been open for three days and that it’s been a “madhouse”.
The word is obviously out.
Pizzas and pies are going into the oven and out the door at a hectic rate.
Multiple customers are coming and going. A few are hunkering down at the outdoor tables. But most are getting their pies and pizzas and heading for home.
We plan on inhaling something from that sector of what’s available, but we’re happily hungry and determined to see what else can be had as well. We grab one of the two indoor tables.
Such is our extravagant lunching enthusiasm, we keep only a partial check on pricing.
But a quick scan of your basic Lebanese bakery items fully indicates how things are here - your basic oregano pizza costs $1.50, a cheese pie $2.50 and most of the rest of the pizzas $4, including our kafta number with “minced beef, tomato, onion, parsley and spices”.
It’s a fantastic, delicate bargain – the meat and seasoning topping does indeed boast that distinctive kafta flavour.
Other pizza and pie varieties include spinach and cheese, vegetarian, soujuk, meat, shanklish and labne.
Our spread of other and more diverse Seaside treats is just as good.
The fattoush and cabbage salad are unavailable at the time of our visit, but the tabouli makes a fine substitute – it’s wet and lemony, which is how we like it. Salads come in $3 and $4 sizes.
The stuffed vine leaves are advertised as costing $2 for three, but they’re quite small so we are given four. They, too, are exemplary, with the al dente rice tightly bound.
Our hummus and babaghanoush, mild and smooth, are fresh and delicious.
Often the outer, bulghur-based shells of kebbeh can be old-boot tough.
Joyfully that is not the case with our two $2 delights – the shells are refined and a dark brown to match the scrumptious inner filling of lamb, seasonings and pine nuts.
Gosh, they’re good!
It seems inconceivable that Seaside Flatbread Cafe will not become a home away from home for us, just as there are already so many devoted customers.
Bennie is straining at the bit to get back there to try the nutella pizza ($3).
Me, I’ll be seeking an opportunity to ditch the at-home muesli routine to try the Traditional Lebanese Breakfast of “egg, soujuk, labneh, cucumber and served with fresh Lebanese bread” ($9).
Seaside Flatbread Cafe is open from 6.30am-5pm Monday to Friday and 6.30am-2pm on Saturdays and Sundays.