25th April 2018
59 Hardware Lane
Melbourne, VIC 3000
My love for Miznon needs no introduction. Ever since my very first visit, I have been absolutely smitten with this powerhouse of Israeli street food – a love that’s only grown with (many) subsequent visits. I just can’t get enough of their pillowy pitas, packed full of scrumptious ingredients, and their amazing take on fresh produce – whole head of roasted cauliflower anyone? And let’s not even let me near the self-serve station of tahini, pickles, and pita. So it goes without saying that I was absolutely delighted when Miznon released a brand-new dinner menu, taking their ingredients out of the pita pockets (though you can still get one if you want to!), and plating them up to share.
With a feast stretched out before me, I decided to avoid the free bread and tahini. That was soon revised, and I allowed myself just one piece, and I’m proud to say that I stuck to that, even when our waitress came by and offered us more!
One of the best things about Miznon is that they seriously know their way around veggies. Take the Sabich ($12) for example. A cheek of baby eggplant, gently grilled in parchment until sweet and pulpy, is topped with a gently aromatic tomato paste, a smashed egg, and a whole smoked chilli. The seemingly disparate elements come together almost alchemically, forming a dish that tastes so much better than it sounds on paper.
The Roast Beef ($15), though not nearly as mysterious, tastes just as good. The meat is roasted to a perfect medium-rare that retains its flavour and juices despite being served cold. The classical seasoning of sea salt and cracked pepper is augmented with the fruity sweetness of ripe tomato pulp, and a scattering of house-made pickled chillies brings warmth.
The Calamari Plate ($15) looks distinctly underwhelming, the seafood hidden between a pile of salsa and a dollop of sour cream. But as it turns out, it was my unequivocal winner for the night, at least until we get to dessert (more on that later).
The calamari was unbelievable; pre-marinated in lemon and spices, it’s whacked onto the grill minutes before serving, and the result contains the best of both worlds – a buttery flavour-infused centre, and crispy, smoky edges. It has a richness that defies what calamari should be capable of, though it’s perfectly balanced out by the fresh, cool tang of salsa and sour cream.
Continuing with the seafood, we dug into the Hraime ($17). This was a delicious, saucy mess, the fillet of fish baked with tomatoes and chilli, and topped with dollops of tahini. This took some work to eat, but well worth it for the flavours.
The savouries were wrapped up with what are now classics at Miznon – a whole Baby Cauliflower ($13), roasted to bring out its nutty sweetness, and so soft that you could eat it with a spoon.
And the Bag of Green Beans ($9) – lemony, garlicky, and as fresh as if they were just pulled from the ground.
Then finally, after finishing all our veggies, it was time for dessert. The Rail of Bananas and Nutella ($5) is a decadent and failsafe combination, but it’s the Rail of Bananas, Strawberries, and Sour Cream ($5) that haunts my fantasies. The combination of tart summer berries, toffee-sweet caramelised bananas, and cool sour cream, stuffed into a fluffy, slightly salty pita is beyond magical. Once again, this is one that needs to be tasted to be understood, but I’ve already sworn to myself that I will eat at least one of these every time I come back to Melbourne.
Once again, Miznon has delivered. Even with Melbourne’s diverse culinary scene, there really is nothing quite like it. What impresses me the most though, is that despite all the gentrification and refinements on the food, and the scale of the operation, both the restaurant and the food have retained their identity. The simplicity and the fun shines through at Miznon, and dining here feels familiar and comfortable, even if you’ve never been before. Now all that’s left to ask is, have you considered expanding to Sydney?
Rating: 15/20 – is miznon, is good.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.
Sweet and Sour Fork dined as a guest of Miznon.