With circumstances bringing me to the quiet, leafy suburb of Albert Park on a regular basis, I have come to grumble about the lack of quality, reasonably priced food in the area. I have been to several restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner – and I hate to write off most of an entire suburb, but seriously, it’s as if the AP is about ten years behind the rest of Melbourne and doesn’t even know it.
This rule doesn’t extend so much to Kamel, a Middle Eastern diamond in the upper-echelon-filled but cuisine-naive rough of the Park. Kamel is immediately inviting, with obliging service from the minute you book to the minute you leave. It has a warm and buzzy environment and an appealing menu.
My table of five ordered the $35 per person banquet. This began with the trio of dips (a Middle Eastern standard but always popular with the ladies), which consisted of tzaziki, beetroot and hummus. Nothing exciting but tasty and comforting, nonetheless.
Next was pan-fried saganaki with lemon, which is always a winner in my books. Sure, it’s hard to get wrong, but its delicious crunchy golden goodness was exactly what I needed on a cold midweek eve and it went well with the beetroot dip, too.
The first dish of the meal to write home about was the sweet potato and sesame seed falafels with tahini honey. These were delicious, with the crunchy, sweet salty fluffiness of the falafels and the smoky, sticky caramel deliciousness of the tahini honey ensuring that every dish was wiped clean.
The quinoa tabbouleh with cucumber, mint, grapefruit, mint and pomegranate dressing could have packed a bit more punch, but was a refreshing accompaniment to the red harissa spatchcock and the slow-cooked beef, nonetheless. The latter dishes were the pieces de resistance of the savoury part of the meal; the spatchcock tender with a crunchy golden skin, lightly spiced with harissa and salt, and the slow-cooked beef the melt-in-your-mouth texture it should be.
What really set Kamel apart was the dessert – Turkish delight and baklava with Turkish fairy floss, halva ice cream and Turkish delight ice cream. The flavour/texture combination of this dish was of a different level of sophistication to the other aspects of the banquet. Delish.
Kamel may not be a pioneer on the Melbourne food scene but the food is yummy and like I’ve said before, service with a smile goes a long, long way and plays a huge part in the quality of the dining experience.