Wind­sor’s Mid­dle East­ern cred just got a se­ri­ous up­grade. By Vic­to­ria Khround­ina

Time Out (Melbourne) - - Food & Drink -

FOR ALL ITS Pan-asian eater­ies, hip chicken joints and even a sand­wich shop moon­light­ing as a tiki bar, Wind­sor has been bereft of Mid­dle East­ern op­tions. En­ter Shukah, the lat­est ven­ture from Garen Maskal (of Ezard pedi­gree). The name trans­lates as ‘mar­ket­place’ in Ar­me­nian, and the es­tab­lish­ment is a lighter, brighter, more play­ful sib­ling of Maskal’s CBD restau­rant Sezar. The menus of both pay homage to the owner’s Ar­me­nian her­itage, but while Sezar is all about an in­ti­mate din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, at Shukah, it’s about hav­ing fun. To start, order the hum­mus. Bor­ing, you say? Not a chance. It ar­rives im­mersed in brown but­ter, ac­com­pa­nied by a gi­ant fire-baked lavash. It’s just the right kind of greasy, with a healthy sprin­kling of za’atar pro­vid­ing that body-tin­gling zing. Or be­gin with a meze se­lec­tion, a kalei­do­scopic dis­play of beet­root smashed and mixed with tahini; cherry toma­toes en­livened with sheep’s milk string cheese; and silky, oily grilled egg­plant to be mopped up with lavash. The seared oc­to­pus comes on a bed of labne with a pis­ta­chio and olive salsa, an ir­re­sistible mix­ture of creamy, nutty and sour – this is as hearty as seafood mezes come. For some­thing lighter, try the king­fish sashimi, dressed with cu­cum­ber and red caviar, and tast­ing of sum­mer by the Black Sea. Make some room by slam­ming down a glass or two of arak, the anise-flavoured Le­van­tine di­ges­tive, and then dive into the larger plates. Half a suc­cu­lent bar­be­cue chicken ar­rives atop a lavash smeared with green harissa and tahini, a dream condi­ment duo of smoky and spicy. The pick­led onion gar­nish pro­vides salty zest and when you wrap every­thing up to­gether, it feels like a com­fort­ing Sun­day din­ner with a Mid­dle East­ern ac­cent. The per­sim­mon amba (chut­ney) adds sweet, gooey rich­ness to the fil­let of roasted bar­ra­mundi paired with crunchy green pea tabouleh – the fish’s skin is charred to per­fec­tion in a Mi­brasa char­coal oven im­ported from Spain. Shukah’s ca­sual at­ti­tude means you can stop on your way to the cinema for a few mezes or feast late into the night. It’s not a cheap eat, but it is a great date op­tion. à104 Chapel St, Wind­sor 3181. 03 9521 3858. www. Tue-thu 5.30pm-late; Fri-sun noon-3pm & 5.30pm-late.

It’s like Sun­day din­ner with a Mid­dle East­ern ac­cent

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