Melbourne Food Review: Lebanese Talk of the Town, Elsternwick
Let’s go back to normalcy from my erratic blogging behaviour for the moment. Talk of the Town is a little Lebanese cafe on Glenhuntly Road on the Elsternwick side. We went there one Saturday for lunch as The Age Cheap Eats Guide* features it quite favourably.
We got there quite late in the afternoon and other than a few people coming around for takeaway kebabs here and there, we were the only people in the restaurant. Menu took a while to get to us and another while for us to be able to order.
Upon entrance, you could see the fridge full of varieties of salads, dips, meats and other goodies. I have come to learn that this was relatively typical of a Lebanese cafe in Melbourne. The menu centred around grilled meats – you could get skewers of barbecued meat (ready in the fridge to be cooked upon order). The exciting part (to me anyway) was the arrays of salads and dips you could choose.
(Kibbeh, mushroom salad, grilled capsicum salad, dips – around $17?)
We both decided on the ‘plate’ – which meant grills or vegetarian dish of choice as well as choices of dips and salads. I decided on the pumpkin kibbeh. You could get individual salads and the prices were marked accordingly. Because I ordered the plate, I simply chose the three salads that were the most appealing. The very first comment from the server (owner as well, I guess) was ‘so you picked the most expensive salads.’
(yoghurt dip, eggplant salad, capsicum salad)
So sue me. I had good taste. That was uncalled for. We were told that most of the dips on the menu weren’t available so we didn’t get to choose them. So I ended up with the yoghurty (Tzatziki-like dip) which I really didn’t enjoy and wouldn’t have ordered. The kibbeh was quite nice (although didn’t taste any pumpkin?). But the salads. Oh my god, the salads.
(Grilled capsicum salad in the fridge)
They. Were. Fabulous. All nicely grilled and dressed with different types of herbs and garlic. All of the salads I ordered were really really very good. Maybe that was why they were the most expensive.
(Mixed grill plate – I can’t remember how much it was. Maybe $24?)
Josh had decided on the mixed grills which were a skewer each of chicken, lamb and beef. I didn’t think the meat was that special and one of the skewer was rather burnt (see the first photo) but the salads, again, were equally good. I had made sure Josh picked different salads so we could share and try different ones. He had ordered potato salad, tabbouleh and snow pea salad. We also received a basket of Lebanese bread with the meal.
(Baklava – $3 or $4?)
Our moods have improved a bit since the food was really quite good. We decided to go for the desserts. Not a lot of choices. I went for the baklava. It was decent.
(bird’s nest – $3 or $4?)
Josh went for the bird’s nest. Personally, they were pretty much the same to me. The other choice was the lady’s finger, which again were the same nuts in buttery filo pastry soaked in syrup.
(Lebanese coffee – $3 or $4?)
I also had a Lebanese coffee which was a typical thick Arabic coffee with a hint of cardamon. Josh reckoned it was vile. I reckoned it was pretty good. But then again he hates coffee/tea/booze. Sucks to be him.
All in all, it was a rather good meal. A tad more expensive than I expected but the food was fresh, home-made and genuinely good. I wasn’t too impressed with the service attitude but since other reviews put them as charismatic, I am happy to write it off as someone having a bad day.
Lebanese Talk of the Town
Address: 446 Glen Huntly Rd., Elsternwick VIC 3185
Phone: 03 9528 6591
* A quick rant on the Age Cheap eats Guide – I am sorry but I think they have totally lost the plot. Half of the restaurants featured there, you cannot get a decent feed for cheap. $30 per person is not cheap eats people. And is it just me or there’s less and less efforts being put into cover design every year?