An icon on the move – Mecca Bah opens at Gasworks Plaza
Since its inception, Mecca Bah has long been a go-to for those seeking a mix of North African and Middle Eastern cuisine. Its lengthy tenure at Fortitude Valley’s Emporium precinct cemented it as a culinary institution, but even the most durable destinations are prone to a shake-up every once in a while. Earlier this year, Mecca Bah vacated its Fortitude Valley digs in favour of a fresh start as an anchor tenant of Gasworks Plaza’s new dining extension. The new space quietly opened to the public last week, and already regulars are trekking to sample Mecca Bah 2.0’s menu, which features all the popular favourites as well as a clutch of experimental newcomers.
Middle Eastern cuisine is in the midst of a renaissance in Brisbane. Over the past six months alone, Adam Wolfers has brought his acclaimed spin on the cuisine to Gerard’s Bistro, Roy Ner and Dario Manca recently delivered in a big way with Fortitude Valley newcomer ZA ZA TA, and now Mecca Bah is stepping into 2019 with a new location and new lease on life. Mecca Bah has been hawking its blend of Middle Eastern and North African cuisine at Fortitude Valley’s Emporium precinct since 2004, remaining a popular tenant for the entirety of its tenure. In April, Mecca Bah’s owners at Platinum Restaurant Group made the decision to relocate its sole Brisbane concept to Gasworks, seizing the opportunity to secure a corner tenancy of the Newstead hub’s in-progress dining addition, in turn supplementing its established crowd of die-hard regulars with the area’s growing pool of corporate and residential diners. After a near five-month build, Mecca Bah opened softly last week at the base of the Gasworks Residences, commencing the next stage of its life just a stone’s throw from the precinct’s central gasometer landmark.
Mecca Bah’s ownership has taken every opportunity to overhaul and modernise the concept’s visual identity, implementing an eye-catching colour scheme textured with small ornamental touches. The 180-seat space transitions from a colourful Mediterranean-inspired al fresco dining area (think walls the colour of orange sherbet, pastel-pink furnishings and plenty of animal-print pillows) to a moodier interior space featuring spacious booth seating (with fixtures retained from the Emporium location), a lavishly adorned bar (take note of the artist-designed tree, upon which hangs bottles of top-shelf spirits) and Mecca Bah’s kitchen and stone-fired pizza oven.
The food & drink
If you hold Mecca Bah’s Emporium menu as sacred, never fear – the restaurant’s signature dishes have survived the move. When it comes to the newcomers, the foodie fun now starts at breakfast, with a Middle Eastern-inspired take on morning fare available in the shape of dukkah eggs and basturma served with diced potato and Moroccan red cabbage, the Za’atar Brekkie with grilled haloumi, over-easy eggs and roasted pine nuts, and a big breakfast loaded with Moroccan beans, felafel, sweet dates, beef sausage and dukkah scrambled eggs. The full menu becomes available from 11:30 am, starting with Mecca Bah’s mouth-watering mezze selection before moving through stone-baked Turkish pizzas, tagines, seafood, meat dishes and salads. The kitchen is experimenting with some culinary cross-pollination, adding the likes of harissa rice-paper rolls with green hummus and basturma, steamed Persian-style dumplings, pan-seared salmon served in a lightly spiced soy broth, and a Middle Eastern interpretation of surf’n’turf pizza to the menu. Over at the bar, expect to find a new list of signature concoctions imbued with the tastes of Turkish delight, baked apple pie and chilli. Share-style cocktails are also available, meaning Mecca Bah retains its status as a go-to option for group dining. Mecca Bah has also added a series of masterclasses to its offering, giving groups the chance to get hands on with pizza making and cocktail classes, while a tantalising Middle Eastern take on the traditional high-tea experience has been added for anyone looking to spice up their next sophisticated gathering.
Meccah Bah is now open to the public – contact details and opening hours can be found in the Stumble Guide. The opening will soon be followed by the arrivals of burger joint Milky Lane and other yet-to-be-revealed culinary concepts.
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