Monday, October 16, 2017

Souk, Melbourne CBD by Foghorn Leghorn

You’ve probably had the experience of going to a friend’s place expecting a quiet evening of chit-chat, and maybe a round of Trivial Pursuit. Then you arrive, and you find a raucous party with people downing shots and dancing on tables. Something similar happened to me the other night at Souk.

The invitation had arrived a few days earlier. Come to an exclusive launch of Souk’s new spring menu, headed by an award-winning chef, it said. “Souk's new menu plays to the traditions of Middle Eastern meze - numerous small & large plates - with a stylish nod to modern Melbourne dining.”

Souk, Melbourne CBD, Kibbeh

I could see it already. A restaurant with exquisite Middle Eastern architecture, and waiters in tuxedos gliding around silently. The sort of place where the other diners give frosty glances to anyone who drops his fork or blows his nose too loudly.

Oh boy, was I wrong!

Souk, Melbourne CBD
As we walked into Souk, we knew we were in for something different. There was activity and movement everywhere, with loud rap music providing the soundtrack. Someone offered each of us a cocktail, and then we stood in front of a camera to clink glasses.

Souk, Melbourne CBD, Princess Jasmine
After that, we were whisked off upstairs and set down at a table of eight people. Being a Tuesday night, with lots on the next day, I wasn’t drinking, so I left my cocktail for someone else to enjoy. About a minute after we sat down, our waitress materialised and said “I notice you don’t have a cocktail. Can I get you one?” Why can’t every waitress in Melbourne be like this? Incidentally, it was their house cocktail, known as the Princess Jasmine, with a gin base and lots of oomph.

The first food took a while to come out, in fact 50 minutes. As far as we could tell, the kitchen was a bit overwhelmed. There were around 130 food bloggers in our part of the restaurant, as well as regular diners up front.

Nonetheless, everybody was having fun. Like every good party host, Souk kept the alcohol flowing abundantly, and there was a good choice.  Fifty minutes of drinking on an empty stomach certainly got most people in a good mood.

Souk, Melbourne CBD, Turkish green bean salad
The first dish was a Turkish green bean salad. I’ve had this many times in Turkish restaurants, and the Souk version was the best one so far. The beans were still crispy, unlike the soggy ones I’ve usually had.

Souk, Melbourne CBD, Kuwait Fried Chicken
Next up was the Kuwaiti Fried Chicken. I had been expecting something exotic, so I was a bit disappointed. There wasn’t much spice or salt, and the chicken was mainly bone with not much meat. I would have loved a drumstick or something, but this was wings.

After that we had kibbeh (see first pic). These weren’t the traditional variety, but a variation without pine-nuts and more subtle spices. Interesting.

Souk, Melbourne CBD, fattoush
Then came fattoush salad in a pita cone. It was a refreshing break between more substantial courses, but it would have been nice to have more salad and less cone.

Souk, Melbourne CBD, Adana meatballs
The following course was Adana meatballs – minced lamb with a variety of flavours, including chilli and mint. It was spiced just right, and is something I would probably order in a bigger portion if I came back for a meal.

Souk, Melbourne CBD, Moroccan seafood stew
The last dish we had was a Moroccan seafood stew called Chut b’chi Zyu. It was beautifully fragrant, possibly the best dish of the night.

There was one more course to go (slow roasted lamb shoulder), but by this time it was past 10 pm. I went to have a look in the kitchen, and it was obvious that nothing would be coming out of there for a while. About 30 people had already left, so we decided to join them. It was a pity, because I had been looking forward to the lamb shoulder. But we both had a lot on the next day, for which we needed to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

Souk, Melbourne CBD

Souk, Melbourne CBD


We really liked it
We really liked it.


Overall, Souk is a good place to go if you want somewhere loud and lively (the rap music doesn’t stop). The staff are all high-energy, running around ensuring that everyone is happy. Our waitress didn’t stop moving all night, so nobody had to wait for a drink. All the staff seem to be of a type: extroverts who enjoy talking to people, with a slightly quirky sense of style.

The d├ęcor is industrial, with various pipes snaking around the ceiling, and a polished cement floor in our section. The upstairs section has a pair of Big Brother style eyes looking at diners, but somehow it all fits.

It would have been more enjoyable for me if I could have stayed up late and had a few drinks. It’s not much fun being sober in a room full of happy drunks. Everyone is talking too loudly, repeating themselves, and laughing uproariously at their own jokes. If you’ve ever been in this situation, you know how time drags.

A bit too rowdy for me, great for the younger crowd.

The Eat and Be Merry Crew were guests of Souk.

Find it at

13 Bligh Place
Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: (03) 8597 5444

Souk Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

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