Mecca Bah Review
Nice overpriced spice
Sharing food is not usually a good idea, in my book. When I have something delicious in my paws I don’t want anybody else just “having a taste”. Mine.
Last night’s visit to Mecca Bah changed this foolish way of thinking. For Mecca Bah is full of little dishes, the kinds of things you really have to share, it order to be greedy and get nearly everything on the menu.
We made sure we arrived at the not-so-fashionable dining time of 6.30pm (although in my book, anything past 5pm is fair game in the dinner stakes) as Mecca Bah doesn’t take bookings and I’d heard the place gets quite popular.
Situated in Fortitude Valley’s Emporium complex, the Middle Eastern restaurant is beautifully decorated in suitable gold, orange, and amber tones. Inside looked comfortable and inviting, but wasn’t as exotic as I had expected. The outside area is large with lots of seating and is quite plain, although the lively atmosphere makes it an upbeat and fun dining area. A more elaborate bar/waiting area would benefit Mecca Bah-there were a few cushions and stools near the front door, but no inviting nooks to have a drink or two before dinner.
We were shown to a table straight away and given adequate time to peruse the menu. There’s a large mezze selection, which are small tapas-style dishes ideal for sharing. Turkish pizzas, grills, and tagines in a variety of meats and seafood are bigger serves and round out the menu.
We started with the Mecca Bah Dips & Bread ($14) and the Lamb Kofte ($11). The waiter helpfully suggested he bring our final dish, the Lamb Pizza ($19.50) out after the two mezze plates. Three very generous servings of dips – baba ganoush, hommus, and a honeyed yoghurt – were served with just three wedges of warm Turkish bread. While the bread was perfectly toasted and fluffy on the inside, another wedge really would have helped. There was so much dip left over at the end and it tasted so good that I kept sneaking a finger in. The smokey baba ganoush was my favourite and contrasted nicely with the tzatziki-like yoghurt.
The lamb kofte were little tender and juicy nuggets that had a hint of spice. The accompanying yoghurt sauce wasn’t as generous a serve as it should have been, seeing as it soaked up the spicey flavours in the lamb beautifully.
The pizza was surprisingly quite big and good value. Spit-roasted lamb, rocket, yoghurt, and sumac were piled into the fresh diamond-shaped crust. The smell of the roast lamb hit me as soon as the dish was set on the table. The lamb strips were incredibly tender and oddly enough, tasted just like my mum’s roast lamb. The spices, rocket, and yoghurt sauce ensured the total taste was a bit more exotic. This pizza actually reminded me of Indian naan bread-the texture and taste of the crust was very similar.
Service was always friendly yet carried a couple of flaws. The wine I originally ordered had just run out, but our waiter didn’t recommend me another one; he simply stood there while I hurriedly tried to make another choice. He didn’t tell us what our dips were either. We later asked him and he was pleased to tell us, which was a relief-it would have been a shocker if he hadn’t known.
It’s a no-tablecloth paper napkin affair at Mecca Bah, and the dish ware is very plain and looks tired. One serving dish was beautifully painted but had half a dozen sizeable chips in the base. These are some aspects of Mecca Bah that really need to be improved in order to justify menu prices.
One thing that Mecca Bah did that really impressed me was their perfect timing. In so many places meals are either brought out too quickly or too slow; when you’re paying for food you’d like to enjoy it and linger, but you don’t want to go hungry. Mecca Bah perfectly space out everything, from ordering time, to entrees, to mains. We did have to ask for the bill, but we were also itching to get to Freestyle for dessert, so that could have had some bearing on our impatience.
Mecca Bah is ideal if you’re looking to sample a variety of Turkish and Moroccan cuisine in a lively-albeit not authentic-atmosphere. But remember, its trendy location means higher prices and a bit of a crowd.
(T-B: Dips & bread; Lamb kofte; Turkish lamb pizza)
Turkish and Moroccan Restaurant
19-21/1000 Ann St
Fortitude Valley map
07 3252 5299