Shishka Cafe

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71 Pier St, Altona. Phone: 9398 8580

This restaurant is now closed.

Authentic Lebanese food in Altona?

You bet!

We’d been alerted to the arrival of Shiska by flyers at the Lebanese Bakery at The Circle, also in Altona.

Foolishly, I’d neglected to take one with me and promptly forgot the name of the new venture.

Its newness – it only opened its doors about a month before Christmas – defied my online sleuthing, so as we amble up Pier St we are living in hope that dad has got the details right.

And there it is – right between a Viet place we’ve never tried and pretty good-looking charcoal chicken shop.

We’ve always found Pier St a bit of non-event in the fang stakes, but things are looking up.

We’ve enjoyed another fine day for cycling and another fine ride – under the bridge and around the bay, with the wind at our backs.

We stopped at the pier in Williamstown to have a chat with Julian.

He’s set up shop with a handful of quadricycles.

This is his first day and he has yet to snag a customer.

We wish him well!

We are certainly not without favoured options in our greater neighbourhood when it comes to kebabs, dips and salads of a Mediterranean nature, most notably at Footscray Best Kebab House and Flemington Kebab House.

But when it comes to the moreish and distinctive flavours of Lebanon, all we’ve found is Cedar Grill in Newport. We enjoyed it, but in truth it seems more set up as a takeaway joint doing good trade in pizzas, burgers and – yes – kebabs.

Based on our very fine lunch, Shiska is the answer.

The decor is a bit daggy, while menu items such as chicken parma and chips and some main courses that seem to fall into the Aussie contemporary bag show only wisdom that relying only on Lebanese customers  may not be sufficient to ensure success.

Even though Altona seems to be a stronghold for folks of that persuasion.

But there’s enough Lebanese specialties at the right sort of prices to warrant Shishka serious consideration.

Bennie goes for the very good value of the $9 kebab wrap and can of soft drink.

He loves every mouthful. He adores it. He rates it 9 1/2 out 10, but that may have something to do with the fact he got exactly what he wanted.

His dad orders the foul ($12) and the eggplant dip ($7).

When compared to the $7 foul at Al-Alamy, this may seem a bit steep – but it’s a big serve, and when combined with the dip, pickles and other bits and pieces it make for a ripper $19 meal for two.

Shishka Cafe brings a Lebanese flavour to Altona.

The beans and chick peas are served whole, swimming in their juices and olive oil.

We mash ’em up and they go just right with the cucumber slices, black olives, pickled turnip, mint sprigs, tomato pieces and green onion strands – it’s plain, honest food and a delight to inhale.

The dip, topped with more olive oil and pomegranate seeds, looks like humus but has a nice texture and lemony flavour.

It’s a lovely feast, and even though Bennie has already scarfed his kebab he, too, indulges in the Lebanese vegetarian delights, making our order about right.

Next time we’ll be interested to check out the likes of the falafel (six served with pickles and pita for $10), kibbeh ($20) and chilli, coriander and potato salad, while the $25 platter of lamb, chicken, three dips and rice may also be a winner.

The kofta plate of three skewers with dip and “parsley salad” costs $15 and there is a kids’ menu of calamari, fish bites, lasagna or nuggets for $7.

The service is fine and friendly and we are not charged extra for more pita bread.

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