A modern blending of culinary cultures... Maha.
A modern blending of culinary cultures... Maha. Photo: Supplied

21 Bond Street Melbourne, Victoria 3000

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Opening hours Daily noon-3pm; 6pm-late
Features Accepts bookings, Bar, Business lunch, Degustation, Events, Gluten-free options, Groups, Licensed, Lunch specials, Long lunch, Private dining, Vegetarian friendly, Wheelchair access
Prices Expensive (mains over $40)
Chef Shane Delia, Daniel Giraldo
Seats 120
Payments Diner's Club, eftpos, AMEX, Visa, Mastercard
Phone 03 9629 5900

Approaching moody, subterranean Maha can feel like entering a kasbah. Here, amid Persian-style carpet, leather, timber and opulent Ottoman empire cushions, Shane Delia’s Maltese heritage is as much on show as his food, infused with influences from nearby Middle Eastern countries. Enthusiastic staff explain the menus, which are degustation in style: choose from between two and six courses, with a similar offering at lunch. Slow-cooked lamb shoulder is a stellar dish of melt-in-the-mouth, sumac-anointed lamb with salty olive tabbouleh. Cured salmon comes with olive-oil powder and mounds of velvety corn, beetroot and pumpkin. Smoked Iranian rice and chicken, with a just-boiled egg and corn, showcase Delia’s modern blending of culinary cultures. Exotic finales may include mastic and rosemary ‘pearls’ and chocolate ‘soil’. But there’s more: droplets of Turkish cologne are placed on hands before receiving the parting gifts of a vial of ras-el-hanout and a tiny tin of rose and hibiscus tea.

And … Matching wines can be ordered with every course.

Vibe Club meets kasbah.
Best bit A menu of surprises.
Worst bit Two sittings on busy evenings.