Wednesday, November 24, 2010


21 Bond Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

Maha is the mediterranean inspired middle east restaurant in the George Calombaris empire. When it opened in 2008 it was the "it" place getting plenty of airtime in local newspapers, feature reviews in Gourmet Traveller and had plenty of buzz.

Fast forward 2 years and it is now past the initial buzz and to be honest in the few times I have been there it has been a bit ho-hum. It has been good, but nothing particularly inspirational and a bit overpriced IMHO.

Maha was almost written off in my mind as a place to go to, I am glad I gave it another go. The occasion was lunch with friends and it worked out that Maha was almost the most central for us to converge on.

Berid mezze - small cold dishes

Being lunch we opted for the 3 course soufra at $40 per person. First plate of mezze came out and it was a great start. Pickled cauliflower, eggplant, olives and confit mushrooms were all winners, but the mushrooms really stood out as tender and juicy. The minted yoghurt soup served in shot glasses was also an interesting way to start the meal.

sahen kbeer - large plates

Main courses came out and we were greeted with spiced chicken legs, perfectly cooked Kingfish served with turkishbaldo” pilaf and a Lebanese bread salad. The highlight here was the Kingfish which was lightly spiced and had a delicious meaty texture. The chicken, buried under parsley, spring onion & pomegranate seeds were served on the bone and again cooked perfectly and spiced to accentuate not kill the flavours. The sides were also a hit, the pilaf was light with a hint of sweetness, the salad was salad I guess but had clean flavours and a great accompaniment.

The most surprising aspect of the food was it was relatively cliche free - no kofta's, no tagine's, no cous cous, no hummus. I would see it as a sign of maturity and confidence to serve food inspired by the middle east but not defined by it.

Wine by the glass range was broad priced from $8-$18 which is quite reasonable and matched the food well.

helwayet - sweets

Finally we had dessert courses. I had low expectations, but the plate came out and I was again pleasantly surprised. The visually appealing aero bar with soft meringue & crème fraiche was great but the star was the Turkish delight filled donuts. These were light, covered with honey and nuts with a centre of gooey Turkish delight, not a healthy dessert, but a real stunner.

Service was good and the dining room is still very polished but think that now that the buzz is over the restaurant is working harder than ever to show that it still worth some attention. It is a good time to go and see that the buzz was justified.

Maha - 15/20

Maha Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon


  1. Hi Jason,

    I only just discovered your blog and your review of Maha… sorry, I'm a bit new to all this internet stuff! Slowly getting the hang of it though - I'm finally on Facebook and started my own blog at

    Thanks for the great post, I'm glad you enjoyed the updates we made to the menu when you dined at Maha in November 2010. Have you been back recently? So much has changed (again!) in the last year or so, I think we're delivering our best yet!

    I'm wondering if you've considered coming along to the Problogger Food & Wine Blogger event I am hosting at Maha in a couple of weeks?

    I'd love to see you back at Maha to see what we're going to plate up at this event! It's going to feature Darren Rowse (Problogger himself!) and three great speakers discussing their approach to food and wine writing. I'll be cooking up an exclusive three course Maha feast (some new dishes!) for everyone and there will be some great give aways for the best questions to the panel of speakers. I'd love to see you there?

    Maybe your readers would be interested in coming with you? As a thank you for this post about Maha, I'd like to offer you and your readers a $10 discount off the normal ticket price for the event. Just use the promo code FOODIES when you register or share this with your readers.

    Bring your video camera, maybe you can do a quick vox pop interview with me or Darren? Look forward to meeting you in person.


    1. Hi Shane,

      It has been a while since I've been to Maha, but will pop in over the next few weeks. Thanks for the invite to the Problogger dinner, unfortunately I had a prior engagement.

      Look forward to checking out the new menu too!


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