Rezah Afghan Kebab, 595 Sydney Rd, Brunswick. Phone: 9387 3730
It’s a very odd few hours that end in sheer delight.
Good pal Nat Stockley and I have fronted for the launch of a new food truck, one that excites us both.
As he points out, whenever we tee up a foodie excursion, neither of us arrive at the appointed location early – but we are ALWAYS on time.
In this case, that is bad timing indeed.
The scene in a Brunswick back street is bleak.
It’s pissing down with rain and the dub music issuing forth from the venue is doing strange, unpleasant things to my internal organs.
Now look, I’m someone who has always fully embraced volume as a music asset – but this is just no good and no fun.
About three-quarters of an hour after the announced starting time, and with food seemingly no closer to appearing, we give it up and head for Sydney Road.
Our first stop, a perennially popular Lebanese joint, is chockers like I’ve never see it before – and will require a 15-minute wait for a table. If we’re lucky …
So we amble on up the Sydney Road hill and settle on Rezah.
I’ve been here before, so know what I’m getting into. Nat has his reservations, but is soon won over.
We have a really, really fine meal in a restaurant that has now climbed onto the list of Melbourne places I most warmly regard.
Perhaps the love that unfolds is because of my previous visit. Or, more likely, the folks who run this joint are just extremely lovely people.
Whatever … I soon start a dialogue with Firoz.
Firoz tells me the restaurant has been running for nine years and that he and wife Aasiah have lived in Australia for 16.
I’m even invited into the kitchen to see our dinner being prepared – so cool!
Nat and I, being of robust hungriness, go for the mixed kebab set menu that’ll cost us $20 each.
The rudiments of our feast are the same as on my previous visit …
Wonderfully vinegary pickles of carrot, onion, cauliflower and even a plump, round chilli.
A minty chilli dip of only mild hotness and a stiff, tasty yogurt dip.
Chewy, hot Afghan naan – so different from the Indian variety.
Our chicken one way and lamb two are fab, especially the lamb and chicken pieces – tender and extremely tasty, with that charcoal thing really going on.
The minced lamb sausage is nicely chewy but I find it a bit bitter in the garlic manner.
The rice, festooned with currants and carrot strands, is every bit as good as that we love eating at this Westies winner.
It’s made, Firoz tells me, with stock made from long-simmered lamb bones and spices including two kinds of cardamom, cinnamon and cumin, as well as salt and pepper.
In a testament to what kind of restaurant this is, Aasiah provides us with a complementary serve of aushak.
The green onion dumplings, smothered in yogurt and a pulse stew of some sort, are wonderful.
As we are wrapping things up, smiling Firoz several times places his hands over his heart to demonstrate his appreciation of our enjoyment of his family’s food and cooking.
He does so again when he makes clear his desire that we not pay for our dinner.
With gentle determination, we eventually persuade him that there’s no way we’re going to allow that to happen.
After a shaky start to our evening, Nat and I have had a fine old time.
And I even got to hear previously unheard – by me – details of my friend’s sordid rock ‘n’ roll past.
What do you reckon?
Would it be completely out of order for Consider The Sauce to arrange a CTS Feast in such a non-western suburb of Melbourne?