Dukkah Restaurant and Bar – The Overview…
Food: Mahshi, Trio of Dips, Cheese Cigars, Chicken Shawarma Tagine, Lamb Tagine, Kunafa
Being only 7 months old Dukkah is still a baby in the Melbourne food and beverage scene, but having the luxury of spending a year creating the interior from scratch has really paid off. Having lived in an old property where we attempted to strip back our basement to bare brick we can appreciate that the time that’s gone into Dukkah’s rustic walls was a major effort. The turquoise interior may not be the first colour you imagine when your mind drifts to the middle east, but it’s pulled together perfectly with pattern tiles, wall art and some hints of the more typical oranges and browns. It gives a unique yet well fitting style to the venue.
There’s a careful focus on space too, making an ideal venue for larger groups and young families to enjoy a pleasant dinner without the crowded noise and overheard conversations. It’s welcoming, yet well-styled and upmarket enough to feel like you’re visiting somewhere a little special. Owner Veronica is a natural, seamlessly jumping from front of house to taking orders and just generally getting to know her customers. It’s all very pleasant and low key, combining a friendly and relaxing atmosphere into an ideal dining environment.
We tried the trio of dips (beetroot, capsicum and hummus), the cheese cigars and the mahshi (stuffed vine leaves) to start, before filling up with the chicken shawarma Tagine, lamb tagine and finishing with the kunafa. All of the food is very Middle Eastern. There’s lots of sweet pops and subtle fragrant spices. There’s definitely a number of Melbourne-twists on some dishes, making them either more suited to local tastes, or taking advantage of local ingredients, but you’re largely getting a genuine Middle Eastern experience from start to finish.
The cigars were a surprisingly light entree. They had a great cheese pull from the mozzarella, a thin flaky pastry and a subtle sweetness. Dukkah have done well to combine the three cheeses yet managed to avoid a greasy or stodgy entree and create a light and moreish dish. The warm vine leaves were a yummy choice too, and something new to us. They’re softer than the cold variety more commonly seen and they don’t have that leafy texture. The whole experience is more like enjoying a Middle Eastern spring roll. Drizzled with vinegar for a little sourness they’re perfect as something different for an entree.
The trio of dips are a must try – they’re classic flavours of the Middle East but each one has been given Dukkah’s unique love. The Beetroot has a nice sourness, and while it retains the beetroot flavour it’s not too earthy. The hummus is a little different with added turmeric. As well as adding health benefits, it makes it a little spicy and a richer flavour that typical hummus. Finally the capsicum is a very smooth, creamy dip. Made from an old family recipe is was the highlight of the three for me, with a nice little kick too.
I felt the Middle Eastern flavours really shone in the mains. The lamb is soft and really enhanced by those light Middle Eastern spices. Fresh couscous mixed with peas and apricots create a fruity nuance and adds more interest throughout the whole dish, instead of the lamb being the only highlight. I love the garden salad on the side too. It’s so simple but it’s such a refreshing contrast to the lamb.
Our second main was the Chicken tagine, a surprisingly rich dish. The creamy contrast against the pomegranate and a little zing from the herbs work well. I found it more filling than the lamb which surprised me. If you only choose one, I think the lamb has a little more going on, whereas the chicken definitely feels more simple, yet more unique. Either way, both are incredibly enjoyable.
We ended with the kunafa – shredded angel hair pastry, mango and cream topped with pistachio dust and rose petals. It had that pleasant perfume-like aroma so synonymous with the Middle East. There’s a nice texture from the pastry and it is sweet enough to round off your meal but not too sweet. We were quite full and enjoyed sharing this one. It was fairly rich from the cream, but i’ts quite small so is easy enough to squeeze in! It looked beautiful too and was a wonderful way to finish off a fantastic dining experience.
Address: 23 Vernon Street, South Kingville
Tue 5pm to 10pm
Wed 5pm to 10pm
Thu 5pm to 10pm
Fri 5pm to 10pm
Sat 5pm to 10pm
Sun 5pm to 10pm
Parking: It’s a little hectic to park nearby, as it’s such a popular little shopping strip, but bear in mind it’s a one way street, so as you’re driving up keep your eyes peeled on both sides of the road. We found a spot fairly quickly, and if you don’t mind a little walk, you’d easily grab a spot slightly further afield.
Getting here on PT: It’s about a 18 minute walk from Spotswood train station, but you can jump on a 432 bus from nearby Yarraville Station, which will drop you just a couple of minutes away (alight at Watt Street).
Disclaimer: We dined as guests of Dukkah, South Kingsville. Reviews are honest and based on our own personal experiences. We cannot guarantee things at a cafe won’t change including, but not limited to, menu items and opening hours, so please confirm any details with the venue before visiting.