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Tregan Borg reviews Miznon, 59 Hardware Lane, Melbourne

Miznon, 59 Hardware Lane, Melbourne

Miznon is all about the quintessential Israeli street food, stuffed pita and I think it’s fair to say there’s nothing quite like it in Melbourne.  Eyal Shani is an Israeli celebrity chef and his pita hail all the way from Tel Aviv.  With two other international branches (Paris and Tel Aviv) Shani has brought his world famous pita to our very own Hardware Lane.

It is quite literally a “pita party” with an amphitheatre style seating facing the counter and kitchen, it’s all about fast food delivered in a simple, yet totally delicious and fun way.  If you’re after a quiet bite, this isn’t for you, the orders are shouted over the counter, and repeated by most of the staff.  There are trumpets, music and dancing.  But don’t let this deter you, even though the staff are having a way too much fun to be at work, they take their pita’s seriously with carefully selected ingredients and well-thought out fillings.

The actual pita bread is made with a Shani’s own unique recipe, and even though it’s not made “in-house” it’s been outsourced to Alasya on Sydney Road, with ongoing discussions about the daily bread making, ensuring the perfect pita pocket.

The bulk of the menu is pita, and broken down into wild vegetable, grass fed cow and lamb and ocean creatures, with a few non-pita options.  Everything is served in brown paper bags and there’s a complimentary condiment station.  Once you’ve ordered help yourself to bread cut-offs, tahini, yoghurt sauce, pickles and chillies.

Let’s talk pita.  If you’re a traditionalist and want something that’s heroing meat you can’t go past the pita with a bone ($19) – lamb ribs stew, slowly cooked with tahini, pickles onion and chilli.  Don’t let the fact there’s a bone in your pita scare you, as you’ll have no issues removing it.  The lamb is so beautifully slow cooked that the bone just slips right off the meat leaving you with juicy rib meat, full of flavour ready to wrap your lips around.  Other meaty options include, intimate wagyu and roots stew with pickles and chilli ($18) and steak and egg (minute steak), sour cream, tomatoe and Lebanese cucumber ($18).

I had my eye on the ocean creatures.  One of the drawcards with Miznon is their unique fillings.  I’m kind of bored of falafel (and you won’t see one on the menu).  The merlan fish, and spicy hraime ($16) was my pick.  Lightly battered and fried merlan (whiting) hraime style.  Hraime translates to a tomatoe bases spicy fish curry, again full of spice and flavour it did not disappoint my taste buds.

Not even the vegetarian pita are awfully boring.  Options like hot chick peas, melting on tahini, with hard boiled egg, chilli and onion ($12).  Chickpeas are soaked and boiled in-house, which makes for textural, large and very plump chickpeas, nothing like the canned variety most people would be used too.  It’s a simple notion, beans and bread, but with the right balance of tahini and pickle, and addition of boiled egg, stuffed into a soft pita, it’s something that makes me really happy.

You can’t go past the famous signature whole cauliflower, boiled and lightly rubbed with oil roasted at an extreme heat in a purpose build ceramic oven that reaches temperatures of over 350 degrees.   The cauli is served whole, with a charred top.  The high heat and ceramic oven serves the purpose of charring the cauliflower to give a unique roasted flavour.  Smother it in some tahini sauce, and dig in with your fingers, breaking the florets off the stalk it creates a joy filled eating experience.  Don’t forget the crispy leaves that usually end up in the bin, cooked like this they are full of flavour.

The drinks list is simple, a few beers, a couple of reds and whites and some very basic mixed cocktails.

Even though there are quite literally bells and whistles, the food genuinely speaks for itself.  That’s what street food is all about, heroing culture, with simple yet carefully balanced ingredients.  It’s that type of food you use your hands to eat and just get stuck in, which totally excites me and makes me want to go back for more.

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