In the last few weeks there have been several new cafes and restaurants open along Glen Huntly Road, as well as some old ones closing. Manakish Levantine Bakery Café has been open just over a month and it was time to see how it compared to old favourite Lebanese bakery hangouts such as Oasis and A1.
First impression is that it is much more upmarket than either A1 or Oasis. It has a large seating area with a mixture of wooden and cushioned seats, a relaxing couch at the front and a few sidewalk tables.
The cooking area is bright and well lit, with both baked goods and cooked breakfasts. It also has a small grocery section towards the back of the cafe.
I've had a bit of a thing recently for baked eggs, so decided to give the baked eggs with lamb mince a go. This comes with its own flat style bread, with a choice of multigrain (my choice), wholemeal or white. These were really good, probably the second best baked eggs I have had recently behind Tom Phat. The eggs were perfectly cooked, the sauce meaty and the dish spicy without being hot. I also liked the flat bread as a change from the usual toasted bread that normally comes with similar dishes. The serving size was a little small, but the flavours were so rich that I didn't really mind.
Second visit I went for the bakery, trying the Lahm Baajjine and the Halloumi pizzas/flatbreads. I thought these were ok but not as good as the eggs. For the lahm baajjine this could have been partially my fault. This came as a crispy, thin based pizza. I ate this while reading the paper and because it was so thin it went cold fairly quickly. Thin, crispy and lukewarm wasn't such a good combination.
The halloumi pizza was better but still lacked a little something. One of my favourite things about halloumi cheese is the texture and the way it feels like it is 'squeaking' against your teeth as you eat it. While the flavour was good I didn't get any of that squeaking feeling. I think I probably also prefer the halloumi inside a pie or pastry, with the cheese evenly distributed rather than the pieces on top like here.
Behind the glass counter is a range of sweets and I chose a couple to finish off my meals. While not cheap these were pretty good. One of my biggest issues with middle eastern sweets is that too often they are overpoweringly sweet and sticky, having been drenched in honey. That was not the case here with the sweetness being controlled.
A good café offering a change from the normal run of the mill places along Glen Huntly Road. It still seems to be finding its feet with the locals, there were only two or three other tables in use when I visited. I liked the style of food and the atmosphere, although the bakery didn't really have the same appeal (to me at least) as the baked eggs. Service was friendly and attentive.
Food - 7.5
Ambience - 7.5
Service - 7
Price - 6.5
480A Glenhuntly Road
Elsternwick VIC 3185
Tel: (03) 9078 1974