Monday, 8 June 2015

B'Stilla vegan dinner, South Yarra restaurant

Last Monday I drove through the dark rainy night to meet up with a vegan dining group at B'Stilla for the special vegan dinner.  I was glad to get in from the rain and rushed past Julia deVille's taxidermy display, (which is not my thing).  The restaurant specialises in Morroccan cuisine.  My seat didn't have great light for photography (given it was an 8pm booking in winter) but I liked my view of decorated tiles and painted tangine pots.  The owners also use seasonal and locally sourced ingredients.

Upon perusing the menu initially I was overwhelmed by the four course menu.  Then I saw that as well as offering wine pairing with the meal, there were also some unusual mocktails.  I appreciated some interesting non-alcoholics options and ordered an Apple, cucumber and mint soda.  It was just enough sweetness and wonderfully refreshing. 

It wasn't long before we were served three dishes for the first course.  I particularly loved the warm Grilled batbout bread with tomato citrus jam.  Then I tasted the Crispy baby okra with zhoug which had a nice crunch on the outside and was pleasingly soft inside.  Others loved it but I found it so spicy that I couldn't eat much of it. 

All of the dishes were served in sharing plates in the middle of the table.  The one exception was the small individual bowls of Harira Soup with chickpea, ginger, date, celery and lemon.  It was quite thin and light but was lovely with the harissa and lemon wedges that were served on the side.  I appreciated that we were choose how much of the spicy harissa to add, to allow for varying tolerances to chillis.

The star of the show was the B'stilla stuffed with eggplant, pumpkin, cinnamon and saffron and accompanied by salads. The organiser of the dinner, Rosalie, informed me that traditional B'stilla (from where I gather than the restaurant takes its name) is pigeon in brik pastry.  Our vegan b'stillas was dusted with cinnamon and icing sugar.  It was served with Spiced roasted beetroot, green charmoula and walnuts, and Morroccan slaw with almond, apricot and chilli dressing.

This dish was memorable because the B'stilla pastry was so hard to cut through, the slaw was served on such a pretty plate, and it is unusual to have a slightly sweet main with such savoury dishes on the side.  I've never eaten a less sweet beetroot dish.  It was very early and lovely with the crunchy walnuts.  The B'still filling was meltingly soft with pastry shards falling around it.  I didn't take enough notice of the slaw but it went well with the meal and I didn't find it particularly spicy.

I don't go out for evening meals often and usually consider it fancy if I push the boat out to two courses.  So after two substantial courses, I felt quite full and ready for dessert.  I was surprised to find we still had a a huge dish of Root vegetable tangine with chickpeas and pumpkin seeds and a pile of Steamed couscous.  I really enjoyed it and loved the crunch of the seeds but this was the least impressive course.  I suspect I had had my fill by then but it also felt more like the food I make at home.

I did not expect to love the dessert of Saffron rice pudding with barberries and pistachio.  Rice pudding is generally not a favourite of mine.  However this one was superb.  I loved the warm spices and the tart dried fruit in it as well as the crunch of the nuts.  It also looked really pretty.

Overall I really enjoyed my meal.  It was delicious with lots of unusual flavours and ingredients.  The service was great and the atmosphere was warm and welcoming.  At $45 for four courses, it was excellent value.  No doubt this is the sort of value that has found B'stilla named as the Age Good Food Guide Best Restaurant Under $30.

I also really enjoyed the company, with most interesting conversation on zeitgeist vegan issues such as aquafaba meringues, Ikea vegan meatballs and dehydrated potato flakes in vegan egg sandwiches.  It should be noted that B'stilla is not usually open on Mondays and this special meal is not from the regular menu.  However upon perusing the online menu there are some similar sharing dishes that would suit vegans and vegetarians.

Also see other blog posts about our dinner by fellow bloggers, Rosalie at Quinces and Kale and Cindy at Where's the Beef.

B'Stilla
30b Bray street, South Yarra, 3141
03 9826 2370
Open: Tuesday to Saturday 5.30pm 'til late
http://bstilla.com/

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15 comments:

  1. Looks like a great meal and that is definitely very good value with four courses for $45 :)

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    1. Thanks Lorraine - yes such great value

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  2. still a bit bummed I missed it, it all looks great (though okra is not my thing!)

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    1. Thanks Faye - I am not a huge fan of okra but found the spices harder than the okra when we were served the fried okra. Am sure you would have enjoyed it but hopefully there will be other meals!

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  3. I'm glad we could share this meal! They did well to bring you around to rice pudding. I needed no convincing. ;-)

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    1. Thanks Cindy - I have had some good rice puddings but the idea of it is still not something I embrace. Lovely to see you there!

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  4. What a fun dinner!! I am not vegan but B'Stilla looks like it has great food at a good price.

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    1. Thanks Cakelaw - I am sure the ominivore menu is full of creativity and great food

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  5. I think that looks like incredible value for the price. My mother never made us rice pudding when we were growing up because she had it forced upon her as a child and she said it was always gluggy. A few years ago I started making rice pudding in my rice cooker and I really love it - especially at this time of year xx

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    1. Thanks Charlie - my mum made nice rice pudding but I think that I just am not a fan of porridgy meals. It is definitely the weather for rice pudding and the one at B'stilla was so wonderful and warming when we had a cold wet night to go out into.

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  6. All looks great! I like to think I would have asked for a doggy bag, but I bet I'd just work my through all four courses and lick my plate clean! I love a good rice pudding, so I'd go out just for that!

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    1. Thanks joey - I never even thought of a doggy bag - it is harder to ask for one when sharing with a group but good idea! Probably just as well that we had sharing plates so I could keep my portions reasonable! But I did go for seconds of the rice pudding.

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  7. Wow - what a sumptuous supper! Your pictures turned out incredibly well considered it was night with dim lighting. Looks delicious =)

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    1. Thanks Kimmy - I was relieved that the photos were not all just blurred and dim but imagine how good it would look in daylight :-)

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  8. This place sounds divine. I think I'd have liked all of the dishes! Rice pudding isn't a big favourite of mine either, but this one does sound appealing. You'll have to return for a repeat visit!

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