The House Of Beans Cafe, 25 The Circle, Altona. Phone: 0419 375 397
Bennie always showed more interest in the F&C shop at one end of The Circle’s shopping strip than I.
But that wasn’t hard as mine was pretty much zero.
My lack of curiosity continued when the premises became a cafe that – and here I am, judging a restaurant by its cover – seemed to offer little more than basic coffee.
So it is only happy circumstance – the Lebanese pizza shop up the road being closed – that forces me through the door to see what’s on offer.
My prior judgments based on appearances prove to be utterly false.
In fact, House Of Beans serves a nice longish range of Lebanese food – think falafel, foul, hommos and the like – that puts it on the same footing as the fabulous Abbout Falafel House in Coburg.
And about that I am ecstatic.
Just think – no more driving to Sydney Road!
Unless we feel like a drive, of course.
For my first visit, I go for the “kefta in bread” ($6.50) and a small serve of fattoush ($7) (top photo).
At first blush the kefta found between layers of lovely, toasted house-made flat bread appears to be very similar to the pinkish meaty smear found on your basic meat pizza up the road and elsewhere.
It’s nothing of the sort.
This is much more juicy, well seasoned and delicious – in short, it really is lamb kofta in a sandwich.
The generously proportioned fattoush is wonderfully fresh but, if anything, the dressing is a little too lemony.
And regular readers will know that I really like a lemony dressing.
On the basis of what I’ve already, tried I am excited upon returning with Bennie.
Nahida helpfully explains the ins and outs of the five different varieties of foul on offer – basically they’re all variations on red beans, depending on the addition or not of tomato, tahini or chick peas – but we perversely go in the opposite direction.
I let my young man have his way with an order of the most expensive menu item – mixed grill ($15).
It’s a ripper!
There’s a skewer apiece of kofta, lamb and chicken.
They’re all fabulous – heavy with amazing chargrill flavour, juicy and tender.
Throw in a good gob of hommos, some rice and the same good salad mix, and you’ve got a splendid meal.
My falafel plate ($10) looks a little on the bare-bones side until the arrival of …
… a fabulously tangy bowl of green olives, pickled cucumber and chillis, mint and onion with which Bennie and I both make happy.
The falafels themselves are fresh and yummy though a tad on the dry side for my tastes. Next time, I’m sure some yogurt will happily be provided to moisten things up.
Nahida brings us some foul to try regardless of our regular order.
This one is an oily mix of red beans and chick peas that is slightly surplus to the rest of our meal.
But we enjoy most of it anyway.
I love how its plainness works in a harmony of contrasts with the various contents of our pickle bowl.
We love what Banjo (he declines to tell me from part of Lebanon his name comes), Nahida and their family have going on here and what they bring to the table in terms of swelling the depth of Middle eastern food available in the western suburbs.
We suggest you get there pronto – but take on board that House Of Beans Cafe is a lunch-only establishment.