Food and love…even the mention of Mecca Bah brings me warm memories of a first date, journeys to far distant lands, exotic and elusive, but loaded with promise.
Once more, I’m unable to resist its charm.
Mecca Bah Gold Coast forms an essential piece of the multicultural mosaic of Oracle Boulevard, Broadbeach. In this sophisticated urban streetscape, cuisines from far flung realms form part of a Gold Coast dining playground for tourists and locals alike to enjoy.
Stepping through Arabesque arches, we’re welcomed by Manager David Langlet into Mecca Bah’s Bedouin-like venue, its communal dining room sophisticated yet casual, warm yet spacious.
Earthy toned terrazzo tiles and chocolate leather seating lit by Ottoman ceiling lamps perched above a huge moulded bar and open kitchen give off an inviting glow. Dominating the kitchen is the taboon, the heart of any Middle Eastern home, framed by a row of tagines stacked along the counter.
Yet while Mecca Bah contains traditional elements, its design signifies the Gold Coast’s modern take on the East: the elongated restaurant is flanked by concertina windows which can open to the summer breeze, bringing inside to out, making the whole dining area semi-alfresco.
Like the decor, the menu is also modern Middle Eastern. It’s a mélange of Moroccan, Turkish and North African cuisine comprising small and large plates of Middle Eastern favourites such as mezze, Middle Eastern salads, Turkish pizza, Tunisian tagines, kofte and other grills, with pastries, Middle Eastern cakes and specialty ice creams for dessert.
We have a few favourite dishes which we love to share when dining with friends: Sweet potato falafel on a bed of tahini; Spicy lamb and pine nut böreks; Lamb Sfiha (an open pastry containing a spiced meatball), Middle Eastern coleslaw packed with raisins, dried beef pastirma and pine nuts; and Lamb kofte pizza, its crisp boat-like crust loaded with rocket-topped lamb.
A new dish to us, the seafood tagine filled with fresh barramundi, large prawns and mussels laced with the flavours of lemon and tomato is delicious. The Yoghurt, semolina and pistachio cake with rosewater which followed was a perfect dessert, the tang of yoghurt deliciously offsetting the rich sweetness of the accompanying halva ice cream. Served on hand thrown Turkish plates and wooden boards, it’s an exotic feast to share.
Fully licensed, Mecca Bah offers spirits, wines and cocktails, lots to quench the Gold Coast thirst, but even a couple of Middle Eastern beers (Efe and Almaza). I try a Pomegranate Mojito, a little too sweet for my liking, but not off the ‘must try’ list if you ask for it ‘sour’. Alternatively, there’s a competent wine list available by the glass or bottle.
There are so many dishes which demand a return visit (roast pumpkin, chilli, pomegranate jam and fetta pizza; lamb tagine with preserved lemon, green olive and harissa; and the delicious Baklava) that a banquet would be a great idea. If you are dining with children, are vegan or vegetarian or gluten or dairy intolerant, you are well catered for. Just ask the wait staff for your best choices.
One of my favourite times to dine at Mecca Bah is lunch, especially on Sunday afternoon, drawing out the dining session with music before the start of the working week. There’s a special lunch for $16 that offers small tastes of a few core dishes (Grilled kebab, Imam bayildi (stuffed eggplant), fragrant pilaf rice with preserved lemon and salad), or a dish of Shakshouka ($12). Combined with a Chicken Gozleme or Open Lebanese flatbread wrap ($10) these dishes are enough to share between two. Relaxing to live music on a weekend afternoon, it’s a deliciously fresh, highly affordable meal.
My lover from a distant land may be long gone, but there is still something in me that yearns for the exotic, the chance to travel far from an everyday life to a landscape unknown. Mecca Bah’s menu has changed little since our first encounter in Brisbane. It’s just as enticing as ever, great value share dining, a sophisticated yet adventurous journey to another cuisine without the discomfort of hot sand between our toes. Best of all, it’s right on our doorstep.
3 Oracle Boulevard, Broadbeach Ph: 07 5504 7754 Open Mon – Thurs 11am – 3pm; Fri – Sun 11am – late
Disclaimer: On one occasion, Good Food Gold Coast was a guest of Mecca Bah Gold Coast.