Graze at Moonee Ponds’ newest Lebanese restaurant, Bekka.
The concept of eating ‘a bit of everything’ is all too familiar to me from growing up in a European family. Most occasions involve leisurely sitting around a table covered in platters of food, perfect for sharing and grazing throughout the day. Newly opened Bekka accentuates the sharing experience by presenting a mezza style menu which pays homage to the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon and authentic Lebanese cuisine.
Owners Richard and Suzanne Pavlov are no strangers to Melbourne’s hospitality scene, having previously opened Brunswick Foodstore and catering venture Willow and Graze. Their Lebanese heritage, hospitality experience and love of food shines through in Bekka’s menu and personalised customer service.
The site, previously a Laundromat, has been transformed into a modern eatery with a colour palate reminiscent of the Lebanese valleys and vivaciousness of Lebanese food. The inviting interior ensures the perfect ambience for your Lebanese banquet.
Principal chef Richard Pavlov’s passion and experience is evident in his fresh and authentic dishes, all of which are prepared in Bekka’s open kitchen. The menu is impressive, offering a range of dips, mezza, salads, meshweh (the grill) and dessert.
As our trio of dips and pickled vegetables arrived, with a side of soft and fried pita bread, I advised my dining companion to pace himself for what lay ahead. But after a mouthful of the refreshing labne dip, made of homemade thickened yoghurt, I knew my advice would fall on deaf ears.
After you have gorged on the irresistible pita bread (let’s face it, we all end up doing this), try to make some room for the next phase of your Bekka feast.
Of course, no Lebanese spread is complete without falafel. Bekka falafel, filled with chickpeas and broad beans, is perfectly crisp and arrives with a side of pickles and tahini.
The kibbeh, comprising meat and burghul shells filled with minced lamb, pine nuts, onions and spices, and served with labne, is a delightful mouthful.
A must have dish is light, crispy filo pastry cheese triangles filled with feta, mozzarella and halloumi. Who doesn’t love something with three cheeses?
The perfectly tender lamb fillet skewers, with shallots, peppers and zatar are melt in your mouth good. But be warned. A side of battata harra, scrumptious fried potatoes with garlic, coriander and chilli, won’t last long on the table.
The Lebanese rice with vermicelli and almonds is a subtle twist on a standard rice dish that is an ideal accompaniment to your choice of skewered meats.
A refreshing side salad of fattoush, featuring crispy pita with tomatoes, cucumber, radish, capsicum, onion, mint, parsley, sumac and pomegranate molasses makes a colourful and tasty addition.
If you think you can fit in dessert, you can’t go past a traditional baklava, filled with vanilla bean ice cream, crushed pistachios and walnuts.
Complement your meal with Bekka’s range of wines, beers, spirits or Lebanese coffee.
With so many options available at Bekka, the decisions can all be made for you with a set banquet, for a minimum of two people ($40 per person).
For those who don’t have the luxury of time for lunch, Bekka’s falafel wraps with tasty fillings, including the ‘Falafel Byblos’ with haloumi, rocket, onion and beetroot hummus, are the perfect choice.
Although Bekka is the new kid on the block, it has already made a name for itself amongst locals. An inviting space, honest food and welcoming staff makes Bekka feel like another family get-together. Just be sure not to fight over the last lamb skewer.