‘Tis the season for lots of excellent all-vegan degustation dinners in Melbourne! Last night was Maha’s turn. Maha is known around vegan town for their fine plant based options. I’d never been before (I might lose vegan points for that somewhere) but the vegan options on the menu always sounded impressive and certainly not some kind of afterthought– the vegan dishes are treated with much consideration.
Owner and Head Chef Shane Delia draws on his Maltese background and travels through the North Africa, Turkey, Iran and the Middle East. Yesterday’s event was No Bull: An All-Vegan Affair and we were served five courses inspired by Middle Eastern cuisine. The restaurant was completely booked out and already busy when I arrived about ten minutes early. While waiting to be seated, we were given a cocktail (a mocktail was also offered as an alternative) and things kicked off soon after. Shane Delia got on the mic and spoke to us about how the approach and attitude to vegan cuisine has changed. I always love hearing how vegan food is becoming a popular dining choice with non-vegans and how more people are now actively seeking out meat free meals. From here, I believe it will only get better and degustations such as Maha’s really do highlight how wonderful vegan food can be– remember, it’s not just salad!
Everything was go go go with busy, friendly staff doing an excellent job.
We were seated in a very dim (for photo taking) corner so please excuse the pics! I also hate holding people up from eating (including myself, ha…) so thanks to my table buddies for putting up with it! I didn’t want to hold everyone up even more with changing camera thingies either when I noticed pics not turning out, so some of the dishes aren’t shown.
For the first course we had almond ajo blanco, green apple, orange blossom, watercress. Nice and refreshing for a first course:
For the second course, we had ‘fattoush’- spiced tomato ice, garlic and sumac warqaa, compressed cucumber and onion. I’m not a big fan of ice in my foods (sensitive teeth and all) but the flavours here were lovely:
The third course had five dishes: sweet potato and seven spice briwat (I really wished we could have had more of these, though I’m greedy):
BBQ young corn, aleppo pepper, coriander and almond (not shown, but really tasty); spring beans and peas, preserved lemon, seeds and nuts. I want to try and replicate this at home:
Wild green hummus, caraway spiced onions, stinging nettle. This was great with the fresh bread buns. A welcome change from lots of the hummus I usually have:
Saffron rice crackling, whipped split peas, tomato, pomegranate. Really nice though I would love these mega jumbo size (remember, greedy):
The fourth course had six dishes (again, all shared plates). Za’atar crusted zucchini flowers, fava and truffle, toasted almond. Really good:
Red lentil Turkish dumplings (I only got to try one little size dumpling, so I would have loved more for sentimental reasons as my grandmother grew up with Greek and Turkish influences and made a dumpling dish called mantou); puffed grains, spiced carrot, pickled marrow; asparagus, preserved lemon, spring onion, black aleppo pepper (this made me appreciate asparagus more):
Tamarind and saffron braised pumpkin. This was spicy and full of flavour. Probably my second favourite dish of the night:
Charred broccolini, freekah, smoked almonds. I loved this and it’s easily my favourite of the night. Smoked almonds rule:
‘Fattoush’- tomato, mint, roast garlic, baked bread:
Our fifth course was the dessert- strawberry and arak ice, coconut sorbet, dark chocolate crumble. This tasted great though my sensitive teeth got a bit of a shock at the big pieces of ice:
All up, a great meal. Drinks were on a separate menu (not included in the $99 dinner price, though the cocktail/mocktail on arrival was included). I want to return to Maha for their lunches and dinner as reviews from fellow vegans have been positive. Maha is a very popular restaurant and I look forward to returning.
From the No Bull event, I can see that Maha do vegan food incredibly well and again, like other degustations I’ve recently been to, you know you’re eating fine food, not fine vegan food specifically. Maha did a great job with showing that vegan food is also fantastic food and you don’t have to be a vegan or vegetarian to appreciate it. I love meals like this that show people that plant foods are for everyone and you are absolutely not missing out by going animal-free.
Thank you to all Maha staff for helping make this evening an enjoyable one for my table!
21 Bond Street, Melbourne city (CBD area)
From the street, Maha is down a flight of steps to a sub-basement level.