Friday, October 4, 2013

Balha's Pastry, Brunswick by Big Fil

Balha’s Pastry is definitely the blingiest of the middle eastern sweets shops along Sydney Road, and probably the most popular one too. You step inside and it’s a bit of a wonderland, with tray after tray of assorted sugary and nutty treats, to the extent of being almost overwhelming. But for some reason I always leave just a little bit disappointed, wishing for just a little more. Why? Because it’s one those places where first impressions are so high, when it feels like it has failed to follow through the fall is twice as steep.

And for me Balha’s doesn’t live up to first impressions. Based on appearances I think I always expect the middle-eastern pastry equivalent of a three-hat restaurant. We sat up stairs this time (it’s normally been roped off when I have visited) and Snooze described it described it as cruise ship chic in style, a marked contrast to the other more functional places nearby selling these style of sweets.

As this was a post breakfast dessert visit there was a limit to have much we could try, settling on a couple of baklava, a birds nest pastry and a Kanafeh. Snooze commented that she found the service when we were ordering a bit brusque, something I had noted on previous visits if not so much on this occasion.

The item I was most looking forward to was the Kanafeh, a soft cheese filled pastry over which a sweet, syrupy sauce is poured. This is one very decadent dessert, sweet and creamy and filling, with the slightly crumbly texture of the pastry contrasting with the smoothness of the cheese.

Unfortunately the baklava style desserts (I didn’t note their exact names) and the birds nest were not up to the same standard. Truth be told I found them a little dry and not as flavoursome as I would have liked. I think I prefer my sweets with a higher proportion of nuts but these felt pastry dominated. That’s consistent with other visits I have previously made here, not that anything is bad but nothing other than the Kanafeh stands out or excites my tastebuds either.

I think I’m in the minority here and to be honest Middle Eastern pastries aren’t really my strong point (or frequent preference) but Balha’s doesn’t really do it for me. It’s not one of those places that I need to grab something every time I go past, more somewhere to go when I am looking for somewhere a bit nicer to sit and eat. Personal preference, poor ordering, possibly, but here it always feels to me as much about the setup as the sweets.

Food – 7
Ambience – 7.5
Service – 6
Price - 7

763 Sydney Road
Brunswick VIC 3056
Tel: (03) 9383 3944

Balha's Pastry on Urbanspoon

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