1092 Main Road
Eltham, VIC 3095
We made the drive out to Eltham one sunny afternoon for dinner at Maroush Lebanese Restaurant. Nestled in a suburb that is half-forest, Maroush is a world away from the gritty Sydney Road haunts that I am so fond of. My experience with Lebanese food up until this point has been huge platters of meat off the spit, fresh salads, and mountains of bread with dip. Oh and a little bit of soul food too. But all in all, I’m used to having those meals in places that either look like someone’s kitchen, or a utilitarian take-away shop.
Maroush on the other hand could pass off for a family restaurant. There’s parking out front, a fountain in the entrance, and a party going on in the banquet room, complete with balloons. The interior was very much done up, reminding me of a Middle-Eastern version of those tacky yet fancy Chinese restaurants. Although the decor was a little bit pandering, it didn’t stop it from being very pretty indeed.
The Baba Ghannouj ($12) at Maroush was the nicest I’ve had to date. The smoked eggplant dip was thick and rich, topped with plenty of good olive oil, and very fresh parsley. It would’ve been even better if there was some good bread to go with it; the crispy spiced fattoush was delicious, but the pita bread was clearly microwaved and from a packet.
The Meat Cigars ($14, 4pcs) were a reasonably solid offering, consisting of fragrant lamb mince and pine nuts wrapped in blistered filo pastry. The tangy, fruity molasses on top brightened things up, but it could really have used some yoghurt, as it felt a bit greasy by the end.
I was a little bummed that I couldn’t get mixed kebab, and had to ‘settle’ for Shish Tawook ($27) instead. The chicken was top-notch, heavily marinated with herbs and garlic, and grilled until the edges were caramelised and charred. The sides were also refreshingly different; the fluffy rice pilaf was sweetened with cinnamon, whilst the usual tabouli was mixed through with a mash of smoked eggplant. It’s a little bit fancy for kebab, but I have to admit it makes for a nice change.
Eating at Maroush was an entirely different experience to what I’m used to when it comes to Middle Eastern cuisine. Although service was slow, prices rather expensive, and the food isn’t the rough and tumble, home-styled platters that I adore, I actually quite enjoyed this meal. Despite some small misses, the flavours were more or less spot-on, and it is nice to have tablecloths and ambience for a change. Oh and guys? Just one more thing: please start serving your dishes with yoghurt on the side; it’ll make everything taste that much better, I promise.
Rating: 13/20 – in soviet marousha, kebab eat you!
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.