Meeka’s friendly service begins when we make our booking over the phone. We had settled on an early dinner, though Chef couldn’t quite decide on a time “6pm, no 6.30pm… ummm” Chef stumbles. Owner Faye replies – quick as a flash – “How about we meet in the middle – let’s make it 6.15”. Perfect. Faye also enquired if we’d dined at Meeka before and if we needed directions. Very friendly and happy to please – it set the tone for the evening’s service.
We arrive at 6.15pm precisely and are warmly welcomed by Faye at a beautifully carved Moroccan door in the restaurant’s entrance. We are seated at the window, overlooking leafy Rokeby Road. It’s our very first visit here and I’m not entirely sure what to expect. I had been imagining that we would step into a tented room, decked out like a colourful Casablanca souk. What we actually find is a modern, crisp and neutral restaurant – with a splash of Moroccan decoration. Meeka is a classy little place and reflects the style of food perfectly – modern Australian cuisine, with a Middle Eastern twist.
Meeka’s Head Chef, Leah Clarke, also happens to be Faye’s daughter. The mother-daughter team have together won a bevy of awards and accolades including “Wine List of the year”. Their wine list is seriously impressive, each vintage handpicked to complement Meeka’s menu. Chef chooses a glass of Friends of Punch Pinot Noir (NZ). Much of the drinks menu is scoured from Europe. I try a sweet French apple aperitif – it is exquisite and very smooth.
We share a mezze plate ($32) from the specials board. We devour the delicious harissa yogurt marinated chicken, served on ornate metal skewers. The tender chicken skewers are perfectly complimented by the delicately flavoured coriander and coconut sauce. The dainty pork neck pies are full of flavour and encased in flaky pastry. Black garlic labneh, a slightly sour cheese made from strained yogurt, is on the side. We relish the chargrilled corn and sweet potato croquettes.
We both choose a tajine, which is essentially a Moroccan stew, cooked and served in a colourful earthenware dish. There are options other than the hearty tajine dishes – also on the mains menu are braised ribs, lamb cutlets, gnocchi and much more – all with their own Moroccan flavour.
The aromas of cumin, cardamom, ginger and nutmeg waft from my lamb tagine ($38) as soon as the lid is lifted by our waiter. It is simply mouth-watering. Top quality Dorper lamb is used, which is very tender. The dish is full of texture from chickpeas, zucchini and crunchy harrissa spiced almonds. Prunes give the already delicious lamb an even deeper sweetness. The lamb tajine is served with a generous side of creamy hummus yogurt.
The tagines are designed to share, but Chef is not happy to part with a morsel of his main. After much persuasion he lets me try his dish and I soon realise why he wants to keep it all to himself! The wagyu beef tagine ($42) is absolutely sensational. The slow braised wagyu beef cheek simply falls apart at the merest touch of a fork. It is so buttery and tender. The beef is accompanied by saffron potatoes, mint preserved lemon yoghurt, pickled radish, sumac onions and fresh herbs. All the tajines are served with a side of Israeli couscous or quinoa for those with a gluten free diet.
It seems a crime not to look at the dessert menu, after such an enjoyable meal. I simply cannot say no to the Turkish delight stuffed doughnuts ($16). The fluffy little doughnuts – oozing with Turkish delight – are dusted in chocolate sugar and drizzled with a spiced chocolate sauce. On the side is creamy homemade pistachio ice cream. It is full of oodles of chopped nuts, which add a touch of crunch to the silky smooth ice cream. The sweet pistachio Persian fairy floss takes me back to my childhood. What an absolutely scrumptious dessert!
**First published in the Post newspaper**
At a glance
■ Meeka Restaurant
361 Rockeby Road
Phone 9381 1800
■ Opening times
Tuesday – Saturday
6pm till late
value for money 4
■ style – Modern Australian
with a Moroccan twist
■ wine – award winning wine list
with an international feel.
■ Chef – Leah Clarke
■ Owner – Faye Clarke
■ feel – inviting, modern and classy
■ wheelchair access – yes
■ cost –
Entrée – $14 – $38
Mains – $30 – $42
Dessert – $7.80 – $38
■ all in all – absolutely delicious
Moroccan inspired dishes. Excellent
Service. Equally great for groups
or an intimate date night.