Spice, delights and fairy floss…

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February 6, 2010 by FoodFloozy

The Place: Cafe Najla
Address: 102 High Street, Northcote, VIC, 3070
Cost: Entrée $7.50 – $14.50, Main $15.40 – $22.50, Dessert $7.80 – $8.80
Hours: Mon-Sat 5.30pm-10.30pm
Style: Syrian (Middle Eastern)

Rating: “Match made in Heaven” (5/5)

Wow. I have to say, being obsessed with food makes me – apart from chubby – partial to becoming distractedly infatuated with tasty tidbits – especially when they’re of a type I haven’t had before. Cafe Najla is my latest infatuation…

The Food
It’s best really to start by telling you the truth – the food here excites your taste buds with its simplicity – it really does. So what did we eat? We started with a gigantic selection of mezze (some may liken this as Tapas however in this instance is was just for the entrees) featuring a smokey baba ganoush (the best I’ve had), creamy hummus, soft sweet beetroot with mint, a warm cracked wheat dish with walnuts and pomegranate, honeyed carrots and a lovely spiced chickpea salad – all served in gorgeous earthenware dishes.

Following this we had a wonderful vegetarian tagine – its main feature being Marrow (which is similar to Zucchini but much tastier), Kebbeh – tasty pressed and fried spiced mince with pinenuts, a very sexy looking salad (featuring strawberries, grapes and apple along with leaves) with a pomegranate dressing, and kebabs set on a spiced long grain rice with flaked almonds.

But the flavor bonanza didn’t end here – and thank god we kept going. The desserts are AMAZING! I’ll be the first to say that I don’t normally eat sweets when I’m out and about, but I have to say, if you come here and don’t… YOU ARE CRAZY!! We had Najla’s homemade sweet sticky baklava, an intense nutty slice – full of spices and various nuts, a seasonal plum slice and my favorite – a tasty set milk custard toped (and perfectly balanced by) the pistachio laden fairyfloss… goodness it was GOOD! (see pic above)

The Drinks
Apart from the usual suspects, Najla had some exciting drinks to end your night with. Cardamom infused coffee served with a dried date, mint tea and mountain tea (which is spicy traditional tea aimed at helping you digest better!) – I went with the Mint tea and it was brilliant. The wine list was large enough and the wine we selected was very tasty – do I remember its name? No, I was there for the food. >:)

And everything else?
The restaurant is cozy – great for couples or big groups – and is definitely a great place for special outings or simply just too cozy up with that special someone in your life. The waiters are casual and friendly, one of which knew the menu very well and the other was still learning (however we ALL have to start somewhere, so good on her!). Najla – the chef and owner – was out and about in the restaurant from time to time asking everyone how they were going and simply being the biggest ray of sunshine, a lovely woman, and she really adds to the experience by making you feel welcome.

One of the coolest features of the restaurant (apart from the hookas and traditional art work everywhere!) was that they used their ambient wall lights to advertise their menu!! I tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to get a photo of this to show you all, but you’ll just have to go and see for yourself!

Food Envy?
Yes – HELL YES. There were many things on the menu that we haven’t yet tried and I saw them going out to other tables – not that I knew what they were, but what I DID know is that these tasty looking items weren’t on OUR table. Humpf!

Cafe Najla was delicious, exotic, exciting and rewarding. I give this place a 5/5 – and if my ratings went higher I’d give them that. We’ll be back Najla, thank you!

Cafe Najla on Urbanspoon


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