The Promenade, Harbourside Shopping Centre, Darling Harbour, Sydney
Kazbah is a delightful Moroccan eatery nestled in Darling Harbour with generously spiced food (a rare thing in Australia), a truly gorgeous view and an interior epitomising ethnic chic. For a special reason elucidated in the footnote, I had a feast of epic proportions for a mere $25.
Through a narrow walkway, one is transported from a shopping mall’s cacophony into an idyllic North African retreat. The restaurant design seamlessly blended the old-world charm of curvaceous hookahs in cosy corners and elegant ceramic tableware with a minimalist line-kitchen in plain sight. As strange as that might sound, it all came together quite beautifully.
I washed the meal down with Chai Yemeny Sweet Milk Tea, a light and mild spiced tea quite similar to Chai or Massala tea. I just adored my little metal-trimmed glass and dainty little filter.
Popular choices included Iced Mocha, pictured below…
and of course, Hot Chocolate on what was a particularly chilly and blustery day.
The brunch was communal and we started off with a selection of porridges. My firm favourite was the Warm Rice Pudding with Saffron Poached Pear, Cinnamon and Hazelnuts. Warm, comforting notes of saffron and cinnamon melded with rich nutty accents in the sweet, creamy pudding medium. The urge to lick my bowl was one I just barely resisted.
A close second was Date and Banana Porridge with Stewed Rhubarb which was every bit as healthy as it sounds but so much more delicious. That delightful banana character, all sugar and heady perfume; flowed out of generous chunks of the fruit and soaked into the thick, fudgy oats. A quenelle of mashed date perched on top added to the sugar quotient.
Rounding out the first course selection was Sweet Couscous with Nuts, Dried Fruit, Stewed Rhubarb and Cardamom Milk. Ever on the lookout for tasty morsels, I filched one of just two pieces of Turkish delight adorning the al dente grains and achieved my first sugar high of the day.
To balance all that richness, or to add nuanced spice, one could choose to add some tart rhubarb compote or cardamom milk. A bowl of brown sugar was also on hand for those with a sweet tooth.
Our plates were swiftly refreshed and I had the pleasure of having a colossal Mixed Grill thrust right in front of me. The massive platter was piled high with seductively spiced Merguez sausage, creamy and mild pan-fried Haloumi cheese, Hash Browns with velvety smooth potato puree beneath that lightly crisp skin, a decadent pile of bacon and a mound of sweet grilled tomatoes just acidic enough to counter all that artery-clogging.
An arm’s length away was another platter piled high with the Moroccan take on eggs Benedict, Eggs in Three Ways on Turkish Toast. The scrambled eggs were creamy and fluffy and the fried eggs were gone in a heartbeat but poached eggs will always remain my favourite style. Few things say brunch better than mopping up some oozy, runny yolk with thick slices of well-buttered bread.
Slipped beneath these platters were a variety of side dishes including Sautéed Mushrooms delicately herbed to bring out their earthy umami and finished with a dash of sweet balsamico.
Also to be found was the Moroccan take on Baked Beans, lima beans in a light sauce of tomatoes, onions and a generous pinch of Cayenne pepper.
In varying degrees of loosening belts and straining seams, we arrived at the main course. As we were expecting two different Tagines we were quite surprised to be looking at a pair of seemingly identical dishes.
The Eureka moment came in a whiff of spice and mouthwatering aromas as our waiter expertly agitated the pile of eggs to uncover the moist mince in our Tagine of Lamb with a mind-boggling ingredients list of Sucuk (a potently-flavoured spiced sausage), feta, spinach, roast capsicum, caramelised onions, roast tomatoes and eggs.
Piled high on warm Turkish bread slathered generously with butter, this was ecstacy. The combination of cumin and sumac in the sausage had bled out, impregnating that beautiful lamb and saturating the juicy vegetables. The layered mouthfeel of mealy meatiness, silky egg and juicy pulpiness was utter bliss as well.
The initial doppleganger, a Vegetable Tagine, was sweet in the way the lamb was savoury. It was certainly breathtaking to look at with its absolute riot of colour.
Slipped carefully onto soft Lebanese flatbread, the starchy sweetness of pumpkin resounded off the sharp brine of feta, refreshing spinach herbaceousness, rich egg as well as more sugar from caramelised onions and roasted bell peppers.
To finish off, we had a variety of thick semolina pancakes. Miraculously, I managed a thick slice of each despite my rapidly shrinking jeans; it was just that good. First on my plate was Strawberry Pancakes with Maple Syrup and Double Cream. It struck a fine balance between the tartness and sugar of the strawberries and that velvety richness of thick double cream.
That was followed by simple but no less pleasurable Banana Pancakes, served in an identical fashion. Once again, that sticky, aromatic sweetness of bananas took centre stage, couched by the mealy fluffiness of pancakes.
I truly left the best for last, unsure if I was worthy to touch the Chocolate and Raspberry Pancakes with Butterscotch Sauce and Chocolate Fudge Ice Cream. Its crowning scoop was really thick and chocolatey enough to be called chocolate sorbet, to my absolute delight. Oozing and soaking into the pancake as it melted, that chocolatiness melded with the buttery caramel of butterscotch sauce for the ultimate decadence. Buried in that fluffy pancake goodness were semi molten chocolate chips and raspberries that simply added to the resplendence of this piece de resistance.
How’s this for genius: a club that brings epicureans together so they can have lavish restaurant feasts at a vastly reduced price EVERY WEEK. Until my heart bypass thirty years from now, I cannot help but adore being part of UNSW Foodlovers!