Wednesday, October 13, 2010

i try meeka

A cold, cold wind was a-blowing. My two dining companions (let us call them Thelma and Louise) and I showed ourselves in through the ornate wooden doors of Meeka. There are a few gems up the less hectic end of Rokeby Road, in Subiaco, and Meeka is certainly one of them.
We were promptly and cheerfully shown a table despite not having a booking. Meeka is one of those places that you feel welcome in as soon as you enter. This was certainly accentuated by Faye, our cheery waitress, who happily explained certain menu items and answered all our questions (most of which were being fired off from my direction), no matter how inane. What's Baharat? What's roulade again? Wait. Sumac. That's a spice right?

Sometimes choosing from a menu is difficult. I found choosing from Meeka's menu exceptionally hard. I wasn't alone. Thelma admitted she too was having an inner-conflict over what to order. It features a range of modern Australian Cuisine with a Middle Eastern Twist. In the end I ordered two entrees because I just couldn't go passed the Spiced Carrot Apricot Fritters with Cacik ($11). To back it up I also ordered Za'atar Whiting, Saffron Preserved Lemon Aioli, Roasted Yellow Peppers, Tomato and Sumac Salad (pictured below, $20).
The Whiting was simple (as fish should be). Za'atar is a Middle Eastern spice mix. Recipes vary but often consists of thyme, oregano, marjoram, sumac and sesame seeds. The mix was flavoursome but subtle enough to allow the flavour of the fish to come through. The salad of tomato and peppers, along with the homemade aioli and a generous sprinkling of micro herbs, proves that simple things done well are always a winner.
Initially, I thought I might struggle to get through the fritters. However, after one bite I knew I'd be fine. They were crispy on the outside and soft and juicy, with big chunks of apricot, on the inside. The spices were perfectly balanced and oh, I could've eaten them all night long.

Thelma and Louise both ordered a tajine of Moroccan Braised 3 Beans, Chickpeas, Sauteed Spinach, Toasted Pinenuts, Saffron Feta (pictured, $27). All tajines are served with Labne and Israeli Couscous. They were beautifully presented in traditional conical-shaped tajine pots, with the lid being removed at the table. It's hard to make stews look appetizing. But the rich tajine...the bright green of the spinach...the sprinkle of pinenuts...the smell...oh the smell... I snuck a spoonful of Thelma's tajine and...yum. That's all I can say. Yum. Really, really yum! Beautifully spiced, a thick sauce but surprisingly light. Both Thelma and Louise agreed it was delicious. We also ordered Roasted Baby Beets, Grilled Halloumi, Toasted Pinenuts, Mint and White Balsamic ($15) and Sauteed Green Vegetables, Saffron Garlic Butter ($11). Both dishes were further proof that chef Leah Clarke has perfected the art of using quality ingredients and treating them with respect. While it seemed we had ordered a lot we were safe in the knowledge that Meeka will happily put what you can't finish into a takeaway container. Happy days!

All three of us had already eyed off the dessert menu. We may not know what Cacik is but we know our desserts. We elected to each get a different scoop of homemade gelato/sorbet ($4 per scoop) and share the Middle Eastern Chocolate Fondue, Home Made Turkish Delight, Candied Nut Balls, Wild Figs, Mint Coconut Marshmallows ($15). We really didn't need the fondue. Our gelato scoops (blood orange for Louise, pistachio for Thelma and donatello for me) were very generous. But, like the soldiers we are, we powered through. It was tough having to eat such delicious icecream. I must admit, I think Louise made the right choice with the blood orange sorbet. It was the perfect palate cleanser.

It was fun sampling the delights on the fondue board. I love a little bit of this and a little bit of that so it definitely appealed to me. Thelma confessed she preferred it without the chocolate. And we agreed. The homemade confectionary was nice enough to stand on its on two feet.

Meeka was delightful. It's a place I will definitely return to. It's a wonderful thing going to a restaurant in Perth where the quality of the food is impeccable, everything is homemade and the service is friendly and attentative without being overbearing or pushy. I was full when we left. But, in all honesty, if another scoop of icecream or another carrot fritter had appeared I would've definitely been able to fit it in!

Meeka Restaurant
361 Rokeby Road, Subiaco, WA
Ph: (08) 9381 1800
Dinner: Tuesday - Saturday 6pm til late
Lunch: Wednesday - Friday 12pm til 2pm

Meeka on Urbanspoon

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