Last Friday night (sounds like a pop song I know!) my family and I went to Kazbah Balmain to celebrate my mums birthday. I had never been previously but so many of my friends had recommended it so I was fairly excited! Personally, I don’t get the opportunity to eat a lot of Middle Eastern food which is such a shame because it would have to be one of the most interesting cuisines, flavour wise due to the fantastic combinations of diverse spices! One of my culinary resolutions for this year is to learn more Middle Eastern inspired recipes, although I’m not quite sure my versions will be as good as those I sampled on Friday. Nonetheless I will give it a red hot go. I think what draws me most to this cuisine (aside from my desire to travel to Morocco one day) are the perfectly balanced combinations of spices that create the most wonderful aromas. Add to that the use of vibrant and colourful ingredients that are jam packed with flavour and perfectly tender meats and I’m fairly certain you can’t be disappointed. Just thinking about it now is making me salivate! Unfortunately everything looked so good that as soon as it was put down in front of us we gobbled it up, so I have to apologise for the lack of pictures in this post (you’ll just have to trust my descriptive ways).
Anyway, along we went to the Balmain restaurant, which is the original flagship restaurant. Once we arrived we entered into a beautifully modern, open planned space which was not what I had anticipated but worked perfectly. There was a sense of authenticity to the decor, which still maintained a sense of being deep within the Middle East but had a modern spin that was so appealing.
We decided to share all of our dishes because, well personally I feel that these foods were made for sharing. I should probably re-enforce that my family and I like to eat, a lot so we had a real feast. We started with the Kazbah Mezze Plate ($22 pp) which included an assortment of creamy dips (hummus, baba ghanoush & tziki), breads, halloumi cheese and these beautiful marinated chicken wings which were to die for. Following our entrée we shared the Chorizo & Haloumi Stuffed Calamari ($22), the Harissa Marmalade Beef ($33), the Chicken and Chermoula Tagine ($32) and the Beef Cheek Tagine ($33). Wow! I’m not even sure how to pick a favourite from any of these dishes. The meat in each one was soft and moist and literally falling off the bone. Each dish was accompanied by either fluffy CousCous or Rice Pilaf which was perfect to soak up the rich, fruity sauces that they were cooked in. I would definitely recommend the Harissa Marmalade Beef which was so tender and served with Sticky Pearl Couscous, Moroccan Eggplant, Tahini Sauce and Red Wine Onion Marmalade! Oh yum!
Of course a dinner out can not exclude dessert and for that we each got our own dishes. Our selection included the Kazbah Bomb for two, a turkish delight ice cream encased in a thin sponge layer with blueberries and flamed with kurrant Vodka ($28). We also had the Shukran Basket, a flakey pastry shell filled with frozen jaffa mousse, belgian chocolate bark and drizzled with candied orange syrup ($14). And finally, the Chocolate & Pistachio Bisteeya which is served in a raspberry & custard sauce and topped with pistachio coated halawa ice cream ($14). Mmmmmm!! I’m reminiscing about the flavours right now!
Overall, we had a wonderful evening with lovely service (no-one was overly pushy or rushing us and all the staff had a very good knowledge of the menu, especially for those who, like us aren’t too sure what some of the dishes on the menu are!) Whilst the meal wasn’t cheap, the food was fantastically cooked and presented and we were all very full by the end of it. If I were to go again (which I plan to do) I would get a group of 8 of my friends together and try the set banquet menu ($45pp) where you get a taste of everything really. All in all a wonderful, modern yet authentic place to dine which I would highly recommend! Truly Magical Middle Eastern Cuisine at its very best!!