After reading about a special offer on the Grab Your Fork blog for Kazbah, I was keen to try a restaurant that I had often considered but usually written off as overpriced for what it was. Now for the record, I LIKE Moroccan food, I have dined at more than one Moroccan restaurants, and I LOVE duck. I have eaten it more times than I can count.
But I get ahead of myself. The deal on offer is 2 courses with a glass of wine for $40 per head. On arrival, they presented us with a half piece of Turkish bread with olive oil and dukkah. It was average, I have had much better dukkah elsewhere. We also got a complimentary cup of tomato soup with tahini. This was reasonably flavourless, and cold, and just didn't really push my buttons in any way. We also ordered two cocktails - a Capirinha ($14.50) and a Pomegranitini ($14.50). They were fine, although the martini glass arrived half full, and I question why they did this. Frankly, it simply starts the meal on a bad note - either buy smaller glasses and fill them or bite the bullet and fill the glasses you have. The flavour base was interesting on the Pomegranitini - it involved pomegranate molasses, walnuts and honey. I think it would have been improved by using a less strongly flavoured honey (it tasted like Leatherwood).
With the special offer, the first course has to be a Kazbah's Mixed Mezze Plate, normally on their menu for $38 for two. As you can see by two of the images above, the plate was a rip-off (or it would have been at full price). Three smears of dip (a bland hummus, a great, smoky baba ganoush and a bland tzatziki), a reasonable amount of bread and some incredibly oily fried bread came on one plate. On the other plate there was two quite lovely pieces of salt and pepper eggplant made with chickpea flour, harissa, and an orange blossom, cashew, chilli and honey sauce; a few pieces of marinated octopus; two pieces of bland, chewy haloumi; and a cremated duck wing. Not ideal for sharing either I might add about the overly crispy duck. I have to confess, when I read Grab Your Fork, I assumed that the Mezze plate she photographed was a per person serve, not a ridiculous thing to attempt to share between two. So let me be very clear, the plate I photographed was meant to be shared.
The glass wine was available in a white or a red, and our selection, the white was a Colombard Chardonnay from the Riverina. It was easy to drink, and complimented the flavours in the food. In fact, I probably should have drunk more of it, and skipped the mains. For my main, I selected the Pan-Fried Duck Breast with Sweet Potato Falafel Cake, Glazed Figs and Pistachio Dukkah. As you can see from the photo, the meat was practically blue. The skin was not crispy, the fat did not seem rendered at all by the cooking process. Upon enquiring as to why I hadn't eaten my dish when clearing the plates, the server conferred with the chef, and it was exactly as they normally served it - medium-rare. Perhaps my photo best illustrates the truth of the matter. Also, if the duck is cold in the centre, I would argue, it ain't medium-rare. But I am just the customer.
My partner's main fared little better. He had chosen Kafta Bel'Sanieh or Baked Pork and Prawn Kafta, Potatoes, Hummus, Herbs and Preserved Lemon Salad. What arrived were bland, dense rissoles that one would not recognise as containing anything other than minced pork. They were topped by yoghurt and a cherry tomato sauce. They were surrounded by undercooked potato pieces. The dish felt like a contemporary Australian dish with Moroccan flavours. In fact, that is the main criticism (besides poor value, raw duck, undercooked potatoes and slow service) I have of this restaurant. I wanted a Moroccan experience - I got overpriced, badly executed themed Mod Oz. And I wont even mention the baby that screamed throughout our entire meal (not their fault per say, but really, perhaps if it destroys the dining experience for other diners, a quiet word asking them to take it outside a while might help). Avoid at all costs.