Shakshuka, rosewater-scented labneh and soujouk sausage – these are just a few of the things on the breakfast menu at Tahini.
“I really want Melburnians to experience and understand what Lebanese food is, beyond just falafel and dips,” says co-owner Joseph Haddad.
Haddad, who also owns Code Black Coffee, is joined in this latest venture by ex-employee-turned-business-partner, Bridie Manson. He’s also brought a chef over from his native Beirut to head the kitchen.
The 80-seater will be open for breakfast and lunch mostly, but will do dinner on Thursdays and Fridays. Food will be casual but authentic – think kibbeh (lamb mince patties), fattoush (a Levantine bread salad), toum (garlic dip) and shanklish (a soft Middle-Eastern cheese, similar to feta). The grill will be firing and the team will be pushing the soufra (Lebanese sharing plates).
“There are no twists,” says Haddad, “it’s exactly what you’d get in Beirut.”
Haddad predicts the diner’s major draw will be the tablieh. Choose a wrap – such as the prawn and pickled cucumber, or the haloumi with vine-roasted tomatoes and green dressing – and it will be served with chips and a dip to match what you chose. There’s a breakfast version, too, with scrambled eggs, beans and olives.
There will be Lebanese wine, arak (a distilled alcohol that tastes a little like ouzo), fresh juices and lemonades, and – naturally – Code Black coffee, served either as espresso or brewed in the Lebanese way (unfiltered and super strong).
“Coffee is still a major focus for me, but Tahini is coming from the heart,” says Haddad.