Where I grew up, the weather was pretty stable. It was shit, but it was stable. When it rained (and it did often), it rained for days – pelting, horizontal rain. When it was windy (and it almost always was), it was a strong, bitterly cold wind that would turn umbellas inside out in an instant. When it was cold (and yes, it normally was) it would be cold for the whole week.
8 years in Melbourne, and I still think the weather here is insane. Hot sunny days suddenly transform to torrential rain in the space of an hour. One day it’s 30 degrees, the next it’s barely nudging 15. How is one meant to plan for such unsettled weather?? Should I leave the house in sandals, or do I need gumboots? Do I need tights, or will I be sweltering by the end of the day? AAARGH.
Maz, Daz and I caught up recently at Agraba on a Friday night. When I booked a table, I noticed that Agraba had both inside and outside seating. It was a gorgeous day on Friday, and I was tempted to request an outside table. And then I remembered – this is Melbourne.
Lo and behold, by the time I got home from work, the rain had started. Good thing I hadn’t chosen the outside table!
Located in Errol St, North Melbourne, Agraba has been open for about a year. It’s a small restaurant seating about 30 inside and several seats outside on the footpath – there seemed to be almost as many seats outside. Foodwise, they serve Lebanese mezze, and while you can order dishes separately, there is a banquet option for $35 each that we opted for.
Several items in the banquet came out together so it was sort of staged in courses. One of them was fattoush – a bread salad – which was pretty good. I was happy because there wasn’t too much bread to eat around.
It was accompanied with a big plate of labne, a tangy yoghurt, topped with za’atar.
There was plenty of bread to mop up the labne, if desired.
Deep fried haloumi also came out as part of the first course. Holy moly, it was incredible! Perhaps because it was crumbed and deep fried, but it wasn’t squeaky at all (something I don’t really like about haloumi), instead staying soft inside with a mild cheese flavour. SO GOOD.
After a short wait, our next set of dishes arrived. We received three little sausages – one each – heavily seasoned with cinnamon, pretty oily and very tasty. We could’ve eaten several more of these!
There was also a plate of pickles – bright pink ones and and pickled chillies. They were all very tart and salty, with the chillies only being slightly spicy.
There was also a falafel each. Nice crunchy outer and soft in the middle.
I really enjoyed the simple dish of green beans and tomatoes that had been cooked until the vegetables were soft.
As part of the banquet, you select a special and we opted for this lamb stew with rice. It was fine without being a stand out.
These look a bit strange, but they were lamb burgers with pinenuts and tahini, served on rice.
And finally, we had a bowl of tabbouleh. I have to admit that I don’t understand tabbouleh. You can see how parsley heavy it is, which none of us were particularly into. Does anyone genuinely like the taste of parsley? Still, we ate quite a lot of it because it was green and green stuff is good.
We had a fun night – it wasn’t very busy, so during the end of the night we had the place to ourselves. The food was fine, not raveworthy (apart from the cheese), but just nice. My picks of the night would be the haloumi, the beans and tomato, and the burgers. In fact, I said in a previous post to ignore the banquet and just order 5 serves of the haloumi – I still stand by that advice.
For more on Agraba, check out Nouveau potato.
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63 Errol St
North Melbourne, VIC 3051
Phone: 03 9329 0058