Vegetarian Life Australia

Vegetarian and vegan recipes, reviews and news for a healthy life

Arabesque – a divine Middle Eastern treat for vegetarians

First of all, my apologies for the hiatus between blog posts. Life has been busy and time has run away from me. But on Friday night I went out for dinner to an amazing Middle Eastern restaurant called Arabesque in Elsternwick (in Melbourne, my home town, of course). The food was so wonderfully good I feel compelled to put fingers to keyboard and write a few words about it.

Arabesque is a real gem. It’s hidden away in a side street off Glenhuntly Road so you are unlikely to just stumble across it. However, it’s no dive. The interior is gorgeous; upmarket enough to feel special, but casual enough to feel relaxed. The flickering of candlelight added to the contemporary Eastern décor beautifully. The waiters were friendly and attentive, but never pushy or intrusive.

Middle Eastern food is usually very good for vegetarians and this was no exception. The menu had the usual and familiar dips, falafel, vine leaves and filo pastries, but we found so much more to order and try for the first time.

We decided to order primarily from the meze menu so we could sample a number of different dishes and share them between the three of us. This way my twelve year old son also gets to try out lots of new tastes without committing to a big dish of his own. We find him to be much more adventurous with new tastes when we order in this way, and the pay off is great when he discovers a new favourite.

We started with a selection of dips which came with Turkish bread, olives and pickled vegetables. We ordered humus (chickpea), babaganoush (eggplant) and bieber (chilli capsicum). The babaganoush was a little on the smoky side, but the other two were delicious. The humus was so good we ordered another serve later!

We followed with mini spinach and feta filo pastries which were tasty and very child-friendly, and an absolutely divine baked eggplant dish with Turkish salcha sauce (tangy tomato) and yoghurt.  The eggplant literally melted in your mouth. With this we also had a serve of tabouleh salad with marinated parsley, tomato, capsicum and cracked wheat.

The next mini course included my favourite dish of the evening – braised silver beet in lemon and coriander, with yoghurt tahini and caramelised onion. This was amazing. I love silver beet and eat it quite often, but have never had it cooked like this. The beet combined with the tangy lemon and the creamy yoghurt tahini was a sensual flavour explosion. Divine! Lastly we had marinated roast capsicum with Persian feta. Again, delicious!

We were feeling pretty full by this point but couldn’t go past sharing a serve of baklava to finish off the meal. The four small pieces in one serve were plenty. The baklava was flaky, nutty and covered in just the right amount of syrup. The menu proudly declared it ‘mum’s speciality’!

So by now it is probably clear that I loved Arabesque. So many new and wonderful flavours and a plethora of choices for a family of vegetarians. We’ll be back again before too long to try out the rest of the many meat-free offerings on the menu.

Dips with olives and pickled vegetables

Dips with olives and pickled vegetables

Spinach and feta filo parcels

Spinach and feta filo parcels

Baked eggplant with salcha and yoghurt

Baked eggplant with salcha and yoghurt

Braised silver beet with yoghurt tahini and caremelised onion

Braised silver beet with yoghurt tahini and caremelised onion

Tabouleh salad

Tabouleh salad

Baklava - woops, I forgot to take a photo before it was too late!

Baklava – woops, I forgot to take a photo before it was too late!


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About me

Lifelong vegetarian. 99% vegan. Londoner. Melbournite. Animal lover. Food experimenter. Mum. Life-partner.

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