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Published May 12th 2012
Good suburban restaurants are usually a secret shared by very few. A hop on the Sandringham line at Flinders Street station and you'll find yourself in Elsternwick. The Southeastern suburb has a few hidden gems on its main Glen Huntly Road.
Manakish is a perfect place for some fresh Mediterranean food. The open kitchen bakes its own Levantine bread that comes in white or wholemeal. Snack options include bread pockets filled with halloumi cheese ($6.60) and also zaa'tar ($3.80): thyme mixed with sesame seeds, surmac and olive oil.
If you're a little hungrier, there's a falafel platter for vegetarians and also chicken, lamb and fish tagines for those who like something a little more hearty. The portions are generous, and the staff are more than happy to provide you with more bread at no extra charge.
The Djaj Shawarma ($15.90): marinated chicken served with fresh musclun salad, was tender, and grilled to perfection. The dish was accompanied by their subtle and zesty hummus and homemade bread.
But the real winner at this place is the sweet selection. The display shelf is stocked with a large variety of baklavas, turkish delights and even the Rose of Damascus. Sit back and enjoy one (or two) with a pot of Lebanese coffee ($4). Buyer beware: the coffee is strong, gritty and full of sediments.
There are also shelves at the back lined with Middle Eastern groceries items like halva, pomegranate molasses and harissa to bring home to prepare your own food.
The service is a little on the slow side, but check this place out the next time you want to indulge yourself in a secret shared by very few. The food isn't fancy, but it's fresh and reminiscent of a home-cooked meal. Sometimes you can't ask for more than that.