Oasis Bakery, a three-in-one bakery, café and supermarket deep in suburban Murrumbeena, has become a bit of cult foodie destination. It celebrated its 18th anniversary in 2016 and marked its coming of age with a renovation that transformed the suburban shop into a one-stop-shop modern Middle Eastern open air marketplace, known as a souq.
Outside, Oasis looks almost as it did before – it doesn't really stand out from the semi-industrial surroundings. Inside, it's a different story altogether. With the renovation came a new dessert bar complete with a glass cabinet displaying massive mounds of Turkish delight, nougat bejewelled with pistachios, and halva. There’s also a crepe station and a deep fryer pumping out fresh Lebanese doughnuts. Next to the dessert bar, the deli offers piles of cured meats and cheeses you can take home for later.
But first, lunch. You can’t go wrong with the lamb shawarma. It's wrapped in pita bread, packed full of salad (iceberg lettuce, tomato, onion and tabouli) and shreds of smoky, slow-cooked lamb. The nutty pucks on the felafel plate are crumbly and dry with a nice fried crust and come served with creamy hummus, neon-pink radish pickles, dill pickles, and tabouli. When the place is bustling service stays friendly and very, very patient while you um and ahh over whether to add tzatziki or even hot chips to your shawarma.
After lunch, make a beeline to visit the DIY nut butter station (and crank it up to crunchy) or browse through the supermarket aisles for Middle Eastern spices, muesli, dips and fresh cheeses.
Murrumbeena may be short on other attractions, but Oasis Bakery makes it worth the Sunday drive.