It was Meeka's Dessert Tasting Plate that caught my eye.
Mini doughnuts stuffed with Turkish delight, pink macarons with rose white chocolate mousse, orange callebaut chocolate tart, cheese and fig cigars with coffee syrup, baklava and date ice-cream and raspberry and peach liquor sorbet with pistachio snap.
A tasting plate that could feed an entire harem. Priced at $34 and allegedly designed to feed two people, it was a certainty that when we dined there recently, a dessert tasting plate (or three) was going to be needed.
With the best of intentions, our group of six decided to 'go easy' on entrees and mains in order to fit in dessert. So we ordered four entrees so that we had two things each to start. Sounds reasonable, doesn't it?
Everything is listed and it makes it even more difficult to make a decision as everything sounds so delicious. And if you're not quite sure what something is, there is even a glossary kindly provided at the back of the menu, so you don't have to embarrass yourself by asking your equally-unknowledgable dining companion was tarator is. (It's a honey nut based type of mayonnaise).
We chose two vegetarian dishes to begin with. A sweet potato felafel with chilli beetroot relish and mint labneh (a type of cheese) ($14) came highly recommended. It was unlike the chickpea based felafel that is more common, but they were beautifully presented and tasty little bites.
We also chose the vegetarian dates stuffed with almonds, preserved lemons, three cheeses and then lightly fried in chickpea batter ($15). This dish divided the group. Some loved it (me included) others found it too sweet, and the chickpea batter was strangely doughnut like (which is probably why I liked it).
Other starters, all priced between $13 and $19 include duck pastries and pulled pork buns. There are also two larger mixed plates including the changing tasting plate for two at $32.
Meeka has a range of beautiful, middle eastern dishes and glasswear that everything from the salt and pepper to the drinks are served in. The tagines are hand painted, the Turkish glasses as bright as candy and richly decorated. I know this, because I had a lot of time to look at them.
It was quite a wait for our meals, and while I admit that getting six women to make their minds up about anything can be a challenge at the best of times, it was almost an hour before our entrees were served (from the time we arrived at 7pm) and our mains didn't arrive til almost 9pm.
Luckily the service is brilliant: friendly, helpful and knowledgeable and the food is high quality and worth the wait.
Although there is a small mains menu that includes various dishes such as lamb cutlets, barberry salt, cracked wheat and currant eggplant salad, hummus mouse, fried chickpeas and pomegranate molasses ($38) it was the tagines we were there for. All the mains, including the tagines are priced between $28 and $40 with the majority of them around $37, which is hardly cheap but standard for a Perth restaurant of this calibre.
A tagine is both the name of the conical shaped, earthen-wear dish and the stew itself. Because of its unique shape, the stew is rich and full of flavour as the moisture cannot escape during cooking.
You can order a tagine to eat by yourself, or buy a few different flavours and share them. The six choices include vegetarian, goat, lamb, chicken, seafood, and Wagyu meatballs. The waitress suggested that for the five of us sharing tagines, we should order four between us.
I really wish we had listened to her. I really wish we had ordered only three. Not because they weren't delicious (they were), but because we so full by the end that we completely ruined our ability to indulge in that dessert platter.
All the tagines were top-notch, but two rate a special mention.
The lamb tagine (dorper lamb, chickpeas, prunes, zucchini, ras el hanout, red pepper sauce, harissa almonds and hommus yoghurt $37) initially sounded the least appealing to me. It was also the least visually attractive.
It was a concise lesson in never judging a book by its cover, as it was the tastiest dish of the night, and one I would have again in a moment. Highly recommended.
The seafood tagine (fish koftes, quinoa stuffed baby squid, prawns, saffron, harissa, tomato and Galliano fennel broth, preserved lemons, tarator, fennel chilli salad and zhourg $38) had a delectable and flavoursome sauce that made me very happy.
All tagines comes with a choice of Israeli cous cous (the big ones) or quinoa. Although the serving sizes initially looked inadequate compared to size of the tagine, like everything else, we couldn't finish it.
After requesting that our leftovers be packaged up as take-home bags, we all debated on whether or not we should order dessert.
We had come so far, but that glazed look had come over us, when the brain shuts down higher functions - like speech – so it can concentrate on digestion.
In the end we ordered a single share plate between the six of us.
Surprisingly, and perhaps disappointingly, we could not even finish it between us. Although some dishes are clearly not designed to be broken into six pieces without it resembling something your toddler might do to their dinner, in most instances only a small bite was needed.
Almost without exception all the dishes were very sweet. As one friend said as she tried to read the bill 'I can't read through the sugar coma.'
The winners on the dessert plate (both of which are available separately on the dessert menu) were the Turkish delight stuffed doughnuts, which win simply because of their ability to cram more than one of my favourite desserts into the same space, and the raspberry sorbet which was a welcome relief to the sugary highs of the other dishes.
Meeka has been on my bucket list of Perth restaurants for a while and it certainly deserves its wall of awards and certificates. I would recommend it to anyone who wants a rich, flavoursome dinner full of new and unexpected ingredients. It works well as a place to share dishes, so would suit small groups.
On the downside, it is very noisy inside and was quite difficult to hear people at the other end of the table. Also, ask for a table at the front of the restaurant where fresh air comes from the open windows.
My recommendations would be the lamb tagine and the frites served with machengo and corn mayo from the sides menu ($12).