350 Nicholson Street Fitzroy, VIC 3065
Mama Manoush is a small restaurant on Nicholson Street, away from the usual hustle and bustle of Fitzroy. They have a great range of delicious Lebanese dishes, from dips to mezza to pizza, as well as two banquet options.The service is also very friendly, and the place has the atmosphere of a lovely family-run business. K and I headed to Mama Manoush for our usual Friday night meal out, but was surprised to find only 2 or 3 other groups dining there, considering its great Urbanspoon rating. We were seated promptly, but deciding what to order was the major hurdle.
There was so much choice and everything sounded fantastic. In the end we finally settled on the ‘Mixed Dip Sample Platter’ and the ‘Hot Mezza Sample Platter’, as well as some ‘Eggplant Chips’ – obviously we just wanted to try a bit of everything!
It wasn’t long before the Mixed Dip Sample Platter was brought out to us, and boy did it look good! There were 3 dips as well as some pickled vegies (K’s favourite!), but the real star of the show was definitely the pita bread, which was served to us, hot from the oven, still puffed up full of air. It was beautifully soft and moist, and was the perfect accompaniment to the dips without being too heavy or filling. The dips were also presented very nicely with a generous pool of olive oil in the middle of each one. My favourite of the dips was the baba ghannouj, which had a very strong but pleasant smoky flavour. The labneh was also very enjoyable and provided a nice acidity and freshness to the entire ensemble. For me, the hummous was the weakest, as I felt like it could have done with a tad more lemon.
The Hot Mezza Sample Platter consisted of an assortment of items from the usual Mezza menu, including the meat sambousik, chicken wings and spicy sausages. I was disappointed that there were no vine leaves, but obviously that’s because it’s a cold mezza. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed pretty much everything that was on the platter. Both the cheese and meat cigars were crunchy, and the chicken wings and spicy sausages were coated in a great lemony sauce. The filling of the meat sambousik was very well seasoned and spiced, and the pastry was perfect! However I thought the kibkabet was quite dry and the minced lamb filling wasn’t very flavourful. That was the only disappointing element on the platter.
Around this point, our eggplant chips had also come, and we were both getting very full already. It dawned on us that we probably should have ordered a salad as a side instead of the chips, because everything on the mezza platter was very meaty and there weren’t many vegies included. I still really liked the eggplant chips, which were super crunchy on the outside, with soft eggplant in the middle. Unfortunately, as we were both so full and feeling a bit in need of something fresh, we weren’t able to eat many of the chips at all. Overall, I really enjoyed my meal at Mama Manoush and would definitely recommend the dips and pita bread to anyone who goes there. I wish that the hot mezza sample platter came with some more vegies or a salad as it was very rich and a bit overwhelming by the end, so if you do opt for that dish, make sure to also order a salad on the side. Still, it was a great new place to try and I would suggest it for those who happen to be in the area.