Dukkah, 23 Vernon Street, South Kingsville. Phone: 9399 3737
Dukkah is a bright new arrival on Vernon Street.
The long dining room has been done up a treat.
It’s casual and elegant, spacious and warm.
There’s a lot of old, gorgeous wood in use.
At the bar in the form of doors (above) …
… and even rulers for the outdoor seating.
Bennie and I choose the easy option of getting stuck into the share platter, which sells for $48 for two people.
It starts with three dips, all with clear and concise flavours – and all offering something different from most Mid-East eats emporiums.
Lemon turmeric hummus with Egyptian dukkah, fel-fel (chargrilled capsicum cream cheese with sweet paprika, walnuts and chives) and beet labneh (caramelised beetroot and yoghurt with black sesame seeds) come with good toasted bread that runs out just before we’ve slurped the last of the dips.
But as Bennie quips, more bread and we’d be stuff before the mains arrive.
And the mains?
Oh my golly gosh – they are splendid!
Two fat, exemplary cigars of lamb kofta – dense, perfect and with just the right mild level of ME-style seasoning.
Two skewers of chicken shish tawook with capsicum and red onion.
The chook chunks look sufficiently and worrying large to promise dryness, but such is emphatically not the case.
In other words, superb.
Out meaty skewers are accompanied by very nice quinoa tabouli and rice pilaf in exactly the right proportions.
As we gleefully devour all, father and son banter a bit about the merits of our meal – and its price.
Bennie reckons $48 is a bit steep, with the sort of deal he gets at his beloved Footscray Best Kebab House colouring his views profoundly.
I beg, very much, to differ.
Dukkah is a quite different sort of place and the quality – especially of the meats – is above that of the majority of kebab shops.
And the combined regular cost of our dishes from the menu would be $54.
No such quibbling is possible with the Dukkah desserts – and we try both.
Om ali – puff pastry pudding with coconut, cinnamon milk, hazelnut and sultanas served in a tagine – is the Egyptian version of bread-and-butter.
It’s wonderful, rich, quite heavy.
This beauty – which could easily serve two – clocks in at a very cheap $12.
Kunafa (layers of shredded angel hair pastry, mango and cream topped with pistachio dust and rose petals, top photo) is lighter, a good deal more playful – and just as tasty.
It, too, is priced keenly at $11.
The days when Vernon Street was a regular haunt for us – remember Famous Blue Raincoat? – seem long ago now.
As a food destination, the street faded for a while there, with the introduction of one-way traffic undoubtedly altering the neighbourhood’s dynamics and probably the viability of some business.
But perhaps Dukkah is joining other local businesses in creating something of renaissance here.
We’d like that.
Check out the Dukkah website – including menu – here.