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This Lebanese restaurant is hammering out the classics with a lot of wins for vegans
While the inner city has been flooded by a tidal wave of new restaurants offering modern twists on insert-exotic-cuisine-here, Brunswick East remains a stronghold of simple, honest dining. Just past Albion Street you have Stone Mill 347, the new Italian restaurant doling out made-to-order gnocchi and kisses for the girls, and now there’s Teta Mona: a boho-chic all-day restaurant where brothers Antoine and Bechara Taouk are serving simple Lebanese with plenty of pickles and very little fuss.
This is everything a neighbourhood restaurant should be. It's loud, and it’s BYO, with service that's personal if a little bit shambolic during peak times. There are street-side seats for locals with dogs, while inside you’re sitting in a room that looks like a cross between the share house of an anthropology enthusiast and a stall at the Dandenong markets: couches, plenty of intricately carved tables and a big display of those blown glass water pitchers (aka briks).
This is a good place to be while summer burns on. Out the back is a big shady courtyard, and the menu vibrates with freshness and pep.
Vegans get a solid look-in here. Green beans are liberally sluiced in a jammy reduction of olive oil, chilli and garlic and falafel are soft, fragrant pucks made with a green and yellow split pea base for a sweeter spin on the chickpea classic. We’re also keen on a squishy, cumin-y plate of cauliflower florets and eggplant fried with dukka and served cold for running though a creamy tahini dip. That’s a good way to start whichever way you sway.
Don’t order the pickles or bread as a side like we did. The bright pink batons of beetroot-stained turnips and briny Lebanese cucumbers come with almost everything, as do soft stacks of the pliable flatbread.
They made a good case for sobriety too. A house-made slushie sees pineapple or pomegranate juice blitzed with fresh mint and ice. Or how about invigorating your kisser with the tartest lemonade in the land? They make it with the whole lemon - skin, seeds and all - it’s like sucking on a citrusy Warhead.
It’s all fresh and wholesome stuff, from pan-fried fillets of snapper dressed up with chilli, walnuts and squiggles of tahini right through to the baklava. They make their pastry dessert with agave nectar, chia seeds and coconut oil rather than butter and sugar but it still has a perfect balance of crispness, chew and nutty crunch. That’s a win for all eaters great and small.
100a Lygon St
|Opening hours:||Sun-Thurs 5.30-10pm; Fri, Sat 5.30-10.30pm|