I am tempted not to blog about this because it’s one of those delightful treasurers I’d rather like to keep to myself, like the greedy only child that I am. Rather ravenous at 9pm on a Saturday night I ventured in on a recommendation and find myself (reluctantly) making one of my own. Tiba’s at 504 Sydney Road, Brunswick is everything you could want in a local Middle Eastern restaurant. It’s the Mama’s Spaghetti and Meatballs of Lebanese food.
There’s nothing thrilling about the façade or décor but if you’re an oinker like me you’ll be too busy with the contents of your plate to notice. The rice stuffed vine leaves ($1.30 for two) are delightful warm little fingers. Due to our famished state I confess a few were consumed before I remember to whip the camera out. The cheese pie and mince pastry ($1 each) are comfortingly doughy. Perhaps not worthy of a repeat order but they certainly helped keep the hunger pangs at bay. Unsurprisingly this place graces the pages of Cheap Eats.
It would be an understatement to say servings are generous. For $8.50 you get a platter filled with your meat of choice, dollops of hummus and tzatziki, pickles, rice and little mountains of tabouli and garden salad. Before we could say "we should have ordered bread" a large basket of delightfully soft pita arives to mop it all up. This is not so much a main course as a feast. One plate could easily feed two but at these prices, why limit yourself?
The Lebanese sausages certainly didn’t come up short in the flavour department and while not overly rich were paired perfectly with the zesty salad. The lamb skewers was meltingly tender and pleasingly pink inside. This is not your standard post-pub kebab, which incidentally they do sell in the front part of the establishment. In the rear restaurant section our fellow diners all seem to be regulars that are onto a good thing. Hasan Tiba is no Greg Malouf but certainly knows what he's doing. The food is not adventurous like the latest Middle Eastern dining hotspots but I have a sneaking suspicion this place will outlast them.