By Jo Rittey
Reminiscent of the Middle Eastern markets its name references, Souk is a buzz of flavour, noise and bright colours.
Ergun Elmas (of Elsternwick’s Arabesque) and business partner Vlad Kovacevic have taken over the huge space (Souk seats 130) through the black door down the end of a laneway which had housed The Deanery since 2002. What was a very dark venue has been transformed with light walls and tables, neon signage and a myriad of designer light bulbs.
Mexican-born chef Rogelio Almanza has produced a menu which is a revelation of flavour and he and his black trilby hat-wearing team have got plating up down to a fine art.
The focus is on share plates and the food is as visually stunning as it is delicious. Starters include prawn falafel served on smoked black tahini, and Kuwaiti fried chicken ribs crumbed with el-hanout spice mix, served with sweet cucumber and garlic sauce. The charcoal octopus with Muhammara sauce and roasted potato is a beautiful dish as is the apricot chicken koftas skewered with a lemongrass stalk and served with beetroot hummus. And as for the kisir, wow. Anatolian-style tabouleh served in an endive leaf. This is by far the best tabouleh I have ever eaten.
Drinks wise, there is a mix of local, European and Middle Eastern wines, as well as cocktails including the Omar Sharif made with gin, citrus mastic, orgeat and rose water.
Do go to Souk for exceptional Middle Eastern food in a space with an ultra-cool vibe. Don’t go if you’re looking for a quiet dinner catch up. Modern industrial fit outs come at a cost and the noise factor is one that you do need to consider at Souk.
A night out at Souk is a multi-sensory journey and you almost feel as though you could be somewhere else. My dinner companion felt as though she was in an episode of Sex and the City and I think she was onto something. The Arabic expression written large on the wall, meaning literally, “Put him in a whirlpool,” translates as, “it totally stunned him”, is a fair indication of the experience you should be having at Souk.
13 Bligh Place, Melbourne CBD
Mon – Fri 11 till late
Sat – Sun 5 till late
Jo has a PhD in Medieval French Literature, loves writing about food and is (often mistakenly) caught up in the myth she can cram as much as possible into every day.