After a couple of acclimatising days, my trip for lunch at Maha represented the start of three consecutive days of diving in to some of Melbourne’s premier places.

Maha is a middle eastern restaurant run by chef Shane Delia who is very well regarded in these parts. The restaurant is in an elegant, mood-lit basement which was buzzing with a lively lunchtime trade throughout my visit.

Service was on-point throughout with my main waitress sure-footed and upbeat, always checking whether things could be replenished or made more comfortable for me. The sommelier made assured recommendations on paired drinks, which was no mean feat given the complexity of flavour in the dishes.

My only decision in terms of food was whether I wanted the two, four or six course menu. I opted for the four.

As a pre-dinner treat, I tried their Turkish delight martini. This was a drink of deft balance as the central lumps of lokum were plenty sweet enough, but the drink still packed a clean finish.

First up we had a mezze platter which comprised some lacy crackers, olive oil poached olives, hummus, beef kibbeh with smoked aubergine, arak pickled cucumber with yoghurt, and cured kingfish.

This was a meal in itself with the hummus absolutely first-rate, the fresh bread accompanying it just splendid, and everything else delivered to a really high quality standard.

Next I had a dish of halloumi, zucchini fritter and spanner crab with preserved lemon. This was splendidly fresh and zingy. I enjoyed it muchly.

The main featured lamb shoulder topped with tabbouleh, fresh green salad and Persian rice. The lamb was exceptional and the taboulleh as good as you could ever wish for. This was the dish of MJ’s dreams and very much on my preferred list, too.

To round things out, we had the most elegant dish of the day. It brought together a yoghurt parfait filled with mandarin coulis with spiced chocolate, and honeycomb. To accompany it was an outstanding Turkish delight doughnut. The dish was an exceptionally strong note on which to finish.

So overall, Maha was a restaurant operating at the absolute top of its game. I’ve rarely been served a meal of this style to such a high standard either in the UK or on my frequent trips to Istanbul. Although the Michelin Guide has not thus far extended to Australian shores, this struck me as operating very comfortably at one-star level. Their lunch menu represents excellent value for the quality on offer so I’d strongly recommend a visit.

Blythe scores Maha
4.5/5 for food
4.5/5 for presentation
5/5 for service
4.5/5 for setting
giving an overall 18.5/20

I ate: four course lunch menu

I drank: paired wines

I wore: orange trousers

Total bill: $118.76

Address: 21 Bond Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000

Written by BKR