Teta Mona, 100A Lygon Street, Brunswick East. Phone: 9380 6680
We’ve successfully completed book shopping happiness in Carlton central.
But the parking restrictions and general madness drive us away in terms of lunching.
We’re thinking some of our fave haunts in upper Lygon – or even further afield in Pentridge Coburg – when inspiration strikes.
As Lygon bottlenecks at Weston Street, I recall pal Marcos recommending a Lebanese place situated pretty much right here.
He called it Lebanese Soul Food – or something like that.
We park and explore – and discover he’d got it mostly right.
The Place is called Teta Mona and “Lebanese Soul Food” is its sub-title.
The business is set is a lovely, rambling old house with mighty pressed steel ceilings out front, a back room with photographs and a back garden.
It’s out the back that I find Almaza, who is preparing chicken for that night’s tawook servings and from whom I get the lowdown on Teta Mona.
The restaurant is named after her mum and run by her offspring, twins Beshara and Antoine and daughter Teresa. Her hubby, Gibran, figures in there somewhere, too!
Oh, yes, this is the sort of family business – with smiles and a genuine welcome in profound evidence – for which CTS lives!
It’s been here a while, escaping our notice in an area we actively adore, but we’re very much in luck – lunch service started just a few days before our visit.
The lunch list is simple and very affordable.
Naturally, we go plates rather than wraps – and are delighted with what we are served.
This is the sort of top-notch Lebanese food that we leave the west searching for.
Much is familiar, all is very good or robustly excellent.
Just like the very similar fare we love getting at nearby Mankoushe and Moroccan Deli-cacy.
Arnabeet ($16) is a dream of fried cauliflower with dukka, tomato, pickles, thyme potato and the pepper relish known as ajvar.
It’s all superb, but the big hit truly comes from the gorgeous slow-cooked potato.
Lahem ($18) is slow-cooked lamb, chick peas topped with buttered almonds, tomato, cabbage and yogurt.
It, too, is very fine – but also has our one, single, minor quibble.
The lamb is so cooked down that it basically becomes a sauce for the chick peas – and thus is quite like the chick pea concoctions we get at various Indian establishments with cholle bhature, though with very different seasonings.
Superb salads served with our dishes, and included in the pricing, are tabbouleh and …
Upon inspecting the menu, we knew straight away this is a dessert-mandatory place – so on we forge!
Choco prince ($7) is a house-made cocoa and honey biscuit with wonderful cream, crushed pistachios and a fresh strawberry.
Very nice, it is.
Rose crumble ($7) is equally delicious and simple – a rose water ice-cream topped with a semolina walnut cookie, another strawberry on the side.
CTS can get a bit sniffy about ice-cream not made on the premises.
But here, it’s as good as – made by a friendly wholesaler according to the family recipe.
A special word for our accompanying strawberries.
These are both so fruity, luscious, full of flavour and amazing, I’m simply not interested in eating a regular strawberry ever again.
How good is this place?
I even come away with a couple of CDs – one of Lebanese folk dancing music, the other of Lebanese classic pop hits from long ago.