Sunday, 22 June 2008

mama ganoush

Ok ... as this post is primarily concerned with our recent culinary discovery, the title maybe unchareacteristically prosaic, but:
The Place: Mamma Ganoush
The Time: A wintry Friday Night 8pm
The Company: Excellent
How we rate it: Oh.My.God - pigs-at-a-troughingly Good!!!
Thanks to D & M (and there is some kind of familial connection with the chef, but this is on the private side of the bloggers line) we beat the not so well worn path to good ole Chapelli Street, my ertswhile "home" for 2 dower and dull years, to 56 Chapel Street, to be exact, the Windsor end.
Mamma Ganoush has already garnered the requisite culinary praise by all the usual suspects and in all the usual broadsheets, so getting a table here requires some forethought and preparation. In these cases, my cynical mind trounces immediately on the axiom "style over substance", but I must say that it is well worth the effort.
As you would expect given this restaurant's moniker, the food is of a meditarranean/middle eastern bent, and like all meals of this nature, is best eaten by a large group in a communal setting, i.e. you should go in a big group so there's lots more to share and sample. It also cuts down on the costs. In fact, the staff will recommend this to you when they take your order.
There was 6 of us, and in all we had 5 entrees, 4 mains and 3 sides. We could have ordered less and been more than amply satisfied, however we got sucked in by our orange eye-shadowed, buddy holly bespectacled waitress who was concerend that the portions maybe too small - SMALL MY ARSE!!! She either needs to check the perscription on her glasses or stop using Agent Orange as a beauty product coz the portions are big. So bear that in mind.
Forgive the dodgy mobile phone pics. Hope you can make out whats what, I can be discreet with a mobile, not so with a camera. And desciptions of the dishes are made up by me - can't remember every single desciptive ingredient - but you'll get the gist.
 Gozleme with wild nettles
This was easily K's fav pick of the night.
The wild nettles were slightly bitter but the combination of spices and perfect pastry really lifted this dish. It came with a creamy sauce which I'm sure consisted of a plethora of spices, so the flavour was at once evolvingly complex, and yet so so simple.
In fact the use of spices was so deft in all the dishes that we had, you could never ever replicate these at home, even though the basic ingredients are commonly found in the average kitchen, or certainly within reach in your local supermarket, and the combinations deceptively mundane.
 Buffalo wings - mamma ganoush style
Now you know when it comes to fried chicken wings, I could eat a bucketful all by myself. Here again, outwardly simple, but so crispy and juicy and the accompanying sauce - sort of cheesy creamy ... who knows what went in there ... but really who cares.
Each single piece of morsel throughout this dinner that entered out mouths was met with the same resounding x-rated YUUUMMM!!
 Spicy Stewed Muscles
All I have to say to you is that I ate one and loved it!!!
THis would be my pick of the entrees - the quail was obviously butterflied and almost completey deboned. It was coated with a spice mix that turned black in the roasting - so tender - supported by a salsa that was tangy and sweet - absolute heaven!!
 Wagyu beef steak tartare
This was the one dish that the yellow peril said might be a bit small and she recommended getting 2 lots - when she cupped her fingers to show how big, it was like the size of a 20 cent coin - when it came to the table, the tip may have been the circumference of a 2  cent coin, but it branched out further on the plate - imagine a 500gm steak minced and piled up - not to mention how heavy and rich it was on the palate - we were struggling to finish - and thats 6 of us!!! It comes with bread and lettuce and a relish - so here we have the asian influence that australian chefs love to incorporate and punters are so much the richer for this, the bread was reminscent of peking duck and the lettuce - well sang choy bao of course!!
 Chicken with cous cous and dates
This one is like a tagine - heaps of cinnamon and star anise - so a tad on the sweetish side for me - but still pretty good - 
Ox Cheek
A large chunk that came out all gelatinous, dark and rich - visiually it was so appetizing and when you put the meat in your mouth - it simple melted. You know we were already starting to fill up at this point, so I can't say that I was enjoying this part of the meal to its full extent. But its definitely a dish I would have again. I can almost taste it just while I'm typing this. This would have been my favourite pick of the mains if not for the Bream ...
(no pics - was too busy orgasming over the fish - and getting more giggly tipsy)
What can I say about the bream. It was my pick and a last minute one at that, thanks to the specky four eyed banana who thought that 3 mains were not enough, god if she was paid commission she would be earning more than the chef. It was just a whole piece of bream on the plate - but the flesh was soft and white and fresh and just the right combination of salt and pepper - simple but perfect! I kept picking at it all through the night, even though I was full to bursting, I just couldn't stop. Nobody else seem as elated by this so I wasn't complaining.
(no pics - see above)
M always orders the duck. I generally don't, not because I don't like duck, but because I like my duck with strong flavours, something a western kitchen doesn't quite have a grasp on. The duck at mamma ganoush was good!! But I can't wax lyrical about it. M assures me that it was one of the best ducks ever ... considering he is the conneisuer of duck-ordering, I would certainly take his word on the subject.
We ordered two of the same serve of potatoes for sides and a cucumber salad with labne. I love labne, crispy bits of fired dough always lift a salad. And I love cucumbers so it was a given that this would have been a great choice by my books. The potatoes were a revelation.
They were just the perfect soft texture and the spice combination in which they were cooked ... I would love to be able to make these potatoes - I would have had them as a main if I could .... I actually decalred that the absolute highlight of the dinner for me was the potatoes - everyone else I think thought it a bit wierd that I was so overwhelmed by a simple side - I hope they didn't take it as an insult  ... but when I took my first bite, I was instantly transpoted to a bedouin tent in some dry dusty desert with the ringing sounds of a belly dancers veil tinkling in the distance ... scrumptious.
And lets face it, its even more of a compliment when a restaurant can devote the same gastronmic expertise to the sideshow as they do the main event!!
As you can see, it gets the big tick from me. So get out those diaries, galvanize your friends, lock in a date and book that table before it gets its chef's hat, raises its prizes even more, and the chef quits in disgust becasue its no longer about the food and more about the cash, and goes downhill all the way.


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