Your Moroccan education at B’Stilla begins just trying to say the name. It’s B-stee-ya in case you’re wondering. The name comes from a Moroccan savoury pastry which is one of the must order dishes at the latest restaurant from Jason Jones of Mamasita fame.
Hidden away in a back street of South Yarra just behind the Jam Factory, B’Stilla is a modern space with a hints of Morocco in the patterned tiles on the wall while the large balcony and bench style seating is pure Melbourne. I went there for a date night with Meat-and-Three-Veg for one of our last meals in peace and quiet before our baby arrived (ah happy memories!).
Given it’s the namesake dish the b’stilla ($14) is a must order. Flakes of pastry encase a mixture of moist pigeon and duck flecked with the occasional almond for crunch. The flavour is subtle and enhanced by a hint of cinnamon. A gustier option is the rgahaif ($15) a glossary on the back of the menu explains that this is a crepe like pastry – even though I’ve been to Morocco it’s not something I’ve come across before. The rgahaif is stuffed with slow cooked oxtail and sweet caramelized onions then served with a slick of fiery harissa paste.
Tagines are the stars of Moroccan cookery (I actually lugged one back from there I was so inspired) and B’stilla does a great wintery tagine ($35) made with duck, blood oranges, dates and brussel sprouts. Not particularly authentic but certainly delicious.
Things fell down a little at dessert as the menu is quite limited with only three choices, one of which was fairly pedestrian vanilla bean ice-cream. Our waiter promised an interplay between hot and cold with a dessert of persimmon sorbet ($11) and hot mehalabeya, a type of Moroccan custard but while the dessert looked the goods, the mehalabeya was also cold so the dish was a bit disappointing.
Besides the dessert, B’Stilla scores with its modern interpretation on Moroccan food. It’s fresh and different to what anyone else is doing in Melbourne at the moment and if it catches on a bit more all that education won’t be necessary.
Details: B’stilla, 30b Bray Street, South Yarra, 3141 (Ph 03 9826 2370) Open: Tues -Thu 5.30pm – late, Friday – Saturday 12pm – late.