In the CBD, you'd be hard pressed to find a Middle Eastern eatery that sits somewhere between kebab joints and Maha on the pricing scale. Souk's entrance on Bligh Place changes things. The restaurant is on the casual side, and what it lacks in natural light past the pokey laneway entrance, it makes up for with bright pink neon lights indoors.
The pan-Middle Eastern menu touches on influences from Turkey and the Arabian Peninsula, coupled with Turkish wine and cocktails.
Owner Ergun Elmas and business partner Vlad Kovacevic have enlisted the help of Mexican-born chef Rogelio Almanza to lead the kitchen team, which is putting out fresh takes on Middle Eastern classics. Centred on share dishes, the menu features big ticket items like the slow-cooked lamb shoulder and sides like the fattoush salad served in a za'atar cone and chipotle hummus.
This is probably not the venue for purists, shawarmas are dubbed "Arabian tacos" on the menu and feature interesting flavour combos that riff on the classics, like the slow-cooked lamb with fresh crunchy veg like cucumber, red radish and salad leaves. The octopus legs served whole, is more truthful to Mediterranean fare, barely dressed whilst tender and smoky from the charcoal grill.
Cocktails nod to classic Arabic flavours like rose water and cardamom. The Espresso Martini is tweaked with Turkish coffee, while their take on Gin and Tonic is made with a mastic-infused gin and watermelon spritz.
If you're after a dinner with fun party vibes, this is the place to check out.