Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Oasis Bakery, Murrumbeena by Big Fil

The term Oasis makes me think of a place of refuge from desert sands, of date palms and warm gentle winds blowing over cooling waters. From the outside Oasis Bakery is not like that. Its quite industrial looking, with a large 'direct to the public' sign that I'd normally associate with a large commercial bakery with mediocre (at best), mass produced food.

However, once you walk inside it's quite a different matter. There are two sections, a small warehouse which sells middle-eastern products and a medium size café/bakery. The café is well set out in two parts. The larger part is more the communal eating area, with large tables and large screen TV playing Arabic programs at low volume in the background. The other area is quieter and more private, with smaller tables and high stools.

Something I did appreciate was the variation in the drinks available here. The drinks cabinet doesn't contain the usual suspects (Coke or Pepsi) but atypical selections such blood orange flavoured Schweppes and Lebanese non-alcoholic malt flavours.

Cheese pie

As with any Lebanese bakery though, its all about good tasting food at great prices. The selection of pies is wider than I have seen elsewhere, including several types of cheese pies, the usual cheese and spinach triangles and lamb and pine nut sambusas. My favourites are normally the cheese pies, but I found those at Oasis less than generous with the filling. While this was a disadvantage with the cheese pies I felt it improved the cheese and spinach, as the combined flavours of feta and spinach can be overwhelming if the pie is overfilled.

Cheese and spinach triangle

Sambusas are not something I've tried before, but the flavours of the lamb and pine nuts work well together.

The Lebanese style pizzas here are also very good. The lamb and feta pizza was generous with the lamb and not overly cheesy, the base crispy on the bottom, slightly chewy in the middle and not overly thick. Just like a good pizza should be really.

The soujouk (sausage) pizza wasn't as good. It was again generous in the toppings and with the same base but it was soggy making it a little hard to eat. I have noticed this at other Lebanese bakeries as well - I suspect the greater use of capsicum and other vegetables increases the moisture of the toppings resulting in the occasional overcooked or alternatively sloppy pizza.

One thing I wouldn't likely order again is the shawarma on rice. The rice itself was very good, well cooked, fragrant and spiced with pinenuts. However, it was quite an unappetising dish to look at and the meat was quite dry, a regular hazard for lamb off the spit where the turnover isn't as fast as it could be (this was around 6pm on a Thursday Night). I am very keen to try their tagine though.

Good, simple but tasty food at excellent prices. The inside is nicer than the outside would lead you to expect, the staff smile and are helpful. While the food comes out quickly they use what looks to me like a beeping ashtray to tell you its ready, something that I never like and which takes away from the warm and friendly feeling that the bakery otherwise generates.

Ambience - 7
Service - 6.5
Food - 7.5
Price - 8.5

993 North Road
Murrumbeena VIC 3165
Tel: (03) 9570 1122

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