We'd left Saturday dinner plans a bit up in the air because that's where we'd been Saturday morning...does that sound cryptic? Well by way of explanation; we'd been up since 3:15am having had to be in the CBD at 4:45am for our hot air balloon trip. As we didn't know how we'd feel following the lack of sleep.
Anyway at about 2pm we decided we wanted a good feed and to try somewhere fun so we rang Maha and they were able to fit us in at 8:45pm. This suited me and I promptly took a hour nap!
We arrived at Maha on time and were shown to the bar as our table wasn't quite ready. Service was warm and friendly. I wanted a cocktail that wasn't available as they were out of the rhubarb soda so I opted for the Nenu which is based on citron vodka. It was delicious and Steve took the recommendation for the Cisk beer which is Maltese. The bartender seemed to approve of our choices as did the sommelier and the another guy who I think must be front of house manager or have some role in the ownership of Maha as he said my martini was named after his grandfather!
This was a cold broth and actually set the bar extremely high for the rest of the meal. This was Steve's favourite dish of the night. Usually with cold soup I'm a bit meh. It's ok but I often think it would be better warm! This is probably the only one that I thought was better cold. Delicate coconut flavours, sweet crab and scallop, salty konbu and the occasion sharp citrus zing as a lime pearl came into the mix.
There was a fair wait between courses but I put that down to a couple of large courses. As the meal progressed the lag reduced.
I loved the arak cured King Salmon, black chilli, roast lemon gel, blonde tahini, eel parfait, raz el hanout nougatine. The blobs of lemon gel were yummy withe the fattiness of the salmon. I enjoyed the tingling chilli sensation and crunchy sweetness of the nougatine was a little strange but rounded off all the flavours. I probably would have enjoyed the dish with or without the line of eel parfait.
We'd been looking forward to duck and pistachio sausage, foie gras and porcini "truffle", fried semolina, nasturtium leaves, beetroot jelly. It was actually a cold dish and more like a terrine but we enjoyed the dense meatiness to it and the sweet beetroot jelly was a great accompaniment. The nasturtium leaves didn't do much but the little ball of foie gras corted in porcini dust (made to look lik a chocolate truffle) added a depth of flavour and richness to the sausage.
The belly pork came in a rectangular block coated in a very fine filo type pastry atop some onion mayo.
Whilst the flavours were good and the meat oh so tender, this dish just bordered on too much for me. Too many flavours and too much meat! The mash did help diffuse the flavours and the sharpness of the pickled cabbage did help cut through the richness.
I think for a degustation menu this would have been better at half the size. Having said that Steve ate all of his so perhaps it's just me!
Rangers Valley Wagyu rump cap, marble score 9+, pinenut hummus, dehydrated shankleesh, lemon, cumin was a delight. The white stripe of sauce wasn't my thing - a bit too horsradishy for me but Steve liked it. The beef itself was so tender and so tasty reminiscent of the beef we had Jacques Reymond but with different flavourings and accompaniments.
Tender 12 hour roasted Mt. Leura lamb shoulder, pistachio and green olive tabouleh was thoroughly enjoyable and the salty tabouleh seasoned the soft lamb.
The two meat dishes came with rice pilaf which was flavoured with tomato and dill and a traditional bread salad which is like the Italian panzanella salad.
By the time the Turkish delight filled doughnuts, olive oil baklava mousse, rosewater honey, white chocolate dust I was done. I ate half a doughnut and dug my spoon in once into to the honey and mousse. It was very very sweet so not really my thing but can see it would be right up the street for someone with a sweet tooth.
Middle Eastern cuisine is probably not something we've had often and it's also not top of the list in terms of favourite flavours. However we really enjoyed Maha. The surroundings and ambience was comfortable - buzzy and busy but not overpoweringly loud. We liked the personal service and we enjoyed the food. It was a memorable meal and Maha left a great impression on us. This was a far better experience than Momo.