Glance down Bligh Place (just off Flinders Lane) and a large, cryptic neon sign catches your eye, drawing you irresistibly to the end of one of Melbourne’s iconic laneways. Congratulations, you have found Souk. Just a short stroll from Flinders Street railway station, could there possibly be a better location for a hip new restaurant in Melbourne?
Inside, a stylish ultra-modern fitout on two levels features lighting that bathes visitors in fluorescent pink neon around the bar downstairs, with multitudes of barely glowing exposed filament globes dangling from the ceiling of the upstairs dining area.
Falafel and hummus wrapped in pita bread might be a common Middle Eastern street food, but there was nothing common about the falafel and hummus that started the feast. Chipotle Hummus (drizzled with burnt butter and paprika) and Prawn Falafel (served on smoked black tahini with coriander mayonnaise and tomato oil) were served separately. The falafel was a great mouthful of flavour, more succulent than (and greatly superior to) the parsley-dominated falafels that I am used to. The hummus was lovely and smooth, but the chipotle and paprika were considerably more mild than we expected.
The most visually dramatic dish was Charcoal Octopus: two large tentacles served with hot muhammara sauce (a hot pepper dip originating in Syria), roasted potato and herb oil (see first pic). The octopus was beautifully tender, but just like the KFC, unexpectedly mild. Ruby Grapefruit thought it could also have done with a bit more char.
We really liked it.
OverallSouk is unashamedly designed to attract the ‘it’ crowd. It has got almost everything right – the location, the fitout, the vibe. Rogelio has the kitchen buzzing, and food is excellently cooked and presented. What is missing is the flavour hit that I expect from Middle Eastern spices.
Ergun had been engaging with guests all night, requesting feedback. Rogelio joined him once the pressure on the kitchen had eased. They are very keen to make Souk work and I have no doubt that only a small amount of fine tuning is needed.
Great for a night out with friends, but not for a quiet romantic assignation – when crowded it is very noisy.
The Eat and Be Merry Crew were guests of Souk.
Find it atSouk
13 Bligh Place
Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: (03) 8597 5444