Review: B’Stilla (Melbourne, VIC)

30B Bray Street
South Yarra VIC 3141
+61 3 9826 2370
http://www.bstilla.com/

I’ve been having sudden cravings for Moroccan food thanks to the cooler months. Unfortunately for me, the absence of a tagine in my kitchen as well as not being within driving distance to a good Moroccan restaurant means that I have to go without for now. Instead, let me wistfully recount the glorious Moroccan feast we enjoyed for Nee’s birthday, um, quite some time ago (sorry, backlog #becauseihavealifeok).

After pre-dinner drinks at Temperance, we walked over to B’Stilla, currently Melbourne’s favourite Moroccan restaurant. The name B’Stilla refers to a traditional Moroccan meat pie dish filled with squab – and (maybe not so) funnily enough, a slightly bastardised version appears on B’Stilla’s menu. Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Chapel Street, this gem promised a menu full of bold flavours, a liberal dose of spice and a whole lot of fun – we were excited.

The a la carte menu has something for everyone, including a decent selection of vegetarian dishes. If you happen to be dining as a group like us, however, you’re better off going for one of the two banquet options. There is a three-course option as well as a four-course one, the latter of which includes a dessert course. We decided to go for the three-course option ($45 per head), which actually comprised of five dishes and two sides in total.

Merguez – barbequed duck sausage
Merguez – barbequed duck sausage

First to arrive were the duck sausages, the appearance of which caused half the table to snigger because, damn, we’re mature. They were long and skinny – and quite frankly, unappealing at first glance but they were tasty and, as much as I hate to use the word, moreish.

Grilled batbout flat bread, tomato citrus jam
Grilled batbout flat bread, tomato citrus jam

The next starter actually proved to be one of my favourite dishes of the night, the Moroccan equivalent of the humble pita bread. The dough was crispy to the touch but soft and chewy inside. All it needed was a slather of tomato citrus jam and Bob was my creepy uncle at the Christmas party.

B’stilla
B’stilla

Rather than using the traditional squab, the guys here used a chicken and duck filling. It was a bit awkward having to divide an arbitrary number of fist-sized pies into 10 or so diner but we did it. I’m not used to savoury pies having a sweet tinge but I loved the beautiful sweet and salty combination of bird with almond, cinnamon and saffron, encased by layers of sweet pastry.

Beef short rib, carrot jam, preserved lemon
Beef short rib, carrot jam, preserved lemon

The beef short rib was another stellar dish, with the meat melting off the bone and cumin-infused carrot jam complementing it well. We also had the lamb shoulder (not pictured), another brilliant meaty main that was paired beautifully with honey baked prunes.

Cauliflower, pine nut sauce, ras el hanout
Cauliflower, pine nut sauce, ras el hanout

To accompany our meat, we had some delicious sides. The cauliflower side was earthy, spicy and herby – a beautiful combination of flavours and textures.

Cous cous, fennel, green olive, orange and honey
Cous cous, fennel, green olive, orange and honey

The cous cous side wasn’t bad but I think it paled in comparison to the other dishes we enjoyed that night – to me it was just filler despite the honey, olives and orange.

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Carnage!

I guess the only thing I’d complain about was the awkward seating arrangements. Due to the size of our group, there were no tables inside for us so we had to make do with a super low table outside in the cold where our knees kept awkwardly bumping against the edge of the table.

In saying that, we all had a fabulous time at B’Stilla; the service was affable and efficient, and the dishes were well-portioned – most of us were satisfied, but not bloated which meant that we had the energy to dance up a storm at Poof Doof shortly after. Huzzah!

B'Stilla on Urbanspoon

I eat too much.

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