Tucked away behind Moonee Pond’s bustling Puckle Street is a long, thin cafe which it’s easy to almost walk straight past. But it would be a shame if you did because Nabiha brings a refreshingly different approach to standard cafe fare.
Nabiha’s fitout is the first thing to capture your attention with a rusted metal mural running around the exterior which continues inside to serve as a backrest for the bench seating. Walls made of concrete breeze blocks and exposed piping in the ceiling give the place an industrial feel.
The cafe is owned by Rosalyn and Sam Manno and named after Rosalyn’s great aunt who inspired the Middle Eastern menu. Instead of avo on toast you’re more likely to find zaatar and labne. While some of the ingredients used may be unfamiliar (sajou anyone?) the flavour combinations are spot on.
There’s cauliflower grilled to the point of smokiness doused in creamy tahini ($16.90) and served piping hot with triangles of flat bread. Fruit toast is topped with swirls of ricotta and drizzled with honey for sweetness and flaked almonds for crunch ($9.50).
Nabiha is serious about its coffee which is by Five Senses and made using a shiny Synesso machine. My latte ($3.80) has a smooth mouth feel without a hint of bitterness and the menu offers everything from chai to cold drip. Tea drinkers aren’t neglected either with a concise but impressive tea menu. For a sweet end to your visit Nabiha sells pastries by Noisette and I can recommend the flaky layers of the almond croissant. It’s not strictly Middle Eastern but certainly delicious.
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Details: Nabiha, 10 Hall Street, Moonee Ponds.
Kids: Kids are welcome with a kids menu and babychinos. There are no high chairs.