Last week we had another get together of our ad-hoc vegan dining group, this time at B’stilla, a Moroccan restaurant in South Yarra. On a cold and rainy Monday night we headed out for a special vegan dinner they were holding. Eight of us had booked in for the dinner. Three veg*n bloggers were at the table and so I’m sure the dinner will be eventually blogged by all of us.
I’d heard some good things about how the restaurant catered well for vegans and some more lukewarm reviews. I was staying open-minded, but I confess I was a bit scared as I really don’t like saffron and I’m a bit funny about sweet spices with savoury food. Both of these are pretty central to Moroccan cuisine.
We settled onto our table which was cosily tucked into a corner where we could carry on a decent conversation. Some of us opted for the paired wines ($30 for 4 glasses), others stuck with mocktails and I had a foot in both camps starting with a refreshing apple, mint cucumber mocktail and moving on later to shiraz. The other mocktail was a rosewater lemonade which I am told was delicious, if you are a fan of rosewater, which I am not.
Once we were all seated with our drinks, the food started to arrive pretty rapidly, so rapidly I thought we were going to be done in less than an hour. There was a grilled Moroccan batbout flatbread with a tomato and citrus jam, some incredible fried baby okra spiced with zhoug, a green chilli, parsley, coriander, cumin and various other spices mix. These were the ultimate beer snack, crisp, soft, salty and spicy – I could happily have eaten the whole bowl. Next up was a small bowl of harira, a spicy, zingy lemon soup.
There was a small pause before that most Moroccan of dishes arrived, b’stilla. Traditionally these are meaty, but these were made of eggplant and pumpkin, wrapped in the thin brik pastry and decorated with the tradtional dusting of icing sugar and cinnamon. I liked mine, the sweet/savoury combination worked well with the vegetables, though the bottom of the pastry was almost impossible to cut through.
The b’stilla were accompanied by two wonderful salads, a Moroccan slaw and a roasted beetroot and walnut salad. The slaw was almost my pick of dish of the night just beaten by the okra. It was dressed with a mildly spicy chilli dressing and packed with small bites of almond and apricots. The beetroot was spiced, roasted and served with a delicious green chermoula and walnuts. There was a lot going on with the spices and the earthy beetroot and the creamy walnuts.
Another merciful pause before the arrival of the root vegetable and chickpea tagine with couscous. By this time we were getting pretty full! Firstly, the couscous. This was the nicest, lightest couscous I have ever eaten. Clearly I have to lift my game from the instant variety! The tagine was delicious, and sprinkled with crunchy pumpkin seeds which made for a nice textural contrast. But most of us were defeated by now and could only manage a small portion.
Finally, the dessert was a saffron rice pudding with freeze-dried berries and pistachios. I loved this from a textural point of view and for the sweet flavour, but the saffron was a killer for me, I really don’t like it. Otherwise a great dessert and saffron lovers would be very happy.
The banquet was a bargain at $45 and I’d be very happy to return. I think I’ve overcome my fear of Moroccan food. 🙂
30 Bray St
South Yarra, 3141
(03) 9826 2370
7 thoughts on “b’stilla”
Wow…what a feast…looking fwd to trying this soon. ..thanks to your blog!!
Great write up rosalie – I have just got my review up too! I was opposite from you in finding the okra too spicy but I loved the rice pudding, much more than I expected. But I agree that the bstilla course was amazing!
I really loved the salads too. Looks like we liked the meal but for quite different dishes. I love chilli and hate saffron.
I’ll take both. 😀
I agree about the salads! I ended up making a fancy Ottolenghi beetroot salad a couple of days later, I guess it’s a neat meld of the two we had here.
This sounds amazing and I’m definitely going to have to go there soon. I love the sounds of it all except maybe the rice pudding 🙂
It all looks great, though I may have been defeated by the okra. I’m not a huge fan of rice pudding but that looks great, saffron and all!
What a delicious menu! I haven’t had all that much experience with Moroccan food, it all looks really interesting.