30 Bray Street,
South Yarra VIC 3141
(03) 9826 2370
He once was behind the food at one of Melbourne’s most successful restaurants, so when Jason Jones, former chef and co-owner of Mamasita, decided to try something different, he opened B’Stilla in the back streets of South Yarra. Unveiled in April 2013, the venue delivers a modern take on predominantly Moroccan cuisine with a relaxed, bar-like vibe that is perfectly tailored to the trendy Chapel St types. Pronounced “bas-stee-ya”, the eatery is named after a traditional Moroccan pie usually served at the beginning of special meals.
The menu is designed to share, full of dishes inspired by traditional Moroccan favourites so incase you’re having trouble translating there’s a glossary on the reverse. Under “Small Plates” obviously is a list of smaller dishes to get your taste buds going. The spiced okra ($5.00) is the Middle-East’s answer to beer nuts. Cut into small pieces, deep fried and doused with spices they’re the perfect snack to accompany a pre-dinner drink. The merguez, a barbecued duck sausage ($6.00) is another smaller dish with a kick of spice that’ll help you settle into your meal.
A serve of tangier BBQ’d octopus with tahini remoulade and kale ($12.00) is a must-order when you visit. The barbeque imparts a subtle smokey flavour to the octopus that matches oh-so-well with the creamy remoulade. The accompanying kale chips also demonstrates Jones’ ability to adapt his menu to emerging food trends.
Of course the restaurant’s namesake dish, B’Stilla, is on the menu. But instead of the traditional pigeon version common in Morocco, this one is made from a mixture of chicken and duck, mixed with almonds and lightly scented with cinnamon and saffron ($14.00). It comes served dusted with icing sugar for that customary sweet/savoury Moroccan flavour combo.
The lamb ribs are another winning starter, laiden with red dukkah, date and lime ($16.00) with meat tender enough to fall off the bone.
There’s plenty to choose from for vegetarians on the menu. The spinach rghaif with eggplant, zucchini, curd and za’atar ($15.00) is one such dish. Familiar flavours of spinach and cheese are wrapped in a light dough, served with a spicy sauce that’s sure to heat things up a bit.
The “Larger Plates” menu is decidedly shorter than the “Small Plates” but touches on all the main proteins. The vegetarian tagine made of pumpkin, broadbeans, beetroot and chic peas ($28.00) is hearty enough to sate even meateaters, but for those in need of iron, the beef short ribs with carrot jam and herbs ($34.00) will fit the bill.
You’ll need some sides with the short ribs, and the cauliflower with pine nut sauce, ras el hanout and herbs ($8.00) is a good choice. Otherwise the hairloom carrots with hazelnuts and smoked chilli ($10.00) is another winning dish.
Desserts are limited, but the set yoghurt with honeycomb, raspberry and lime ($12.00), akin to a panacotta, is a pretty dish with contrasting creamy and sharp flavours. The fez mess with prunes, meringue and walnuts ($12.00), meanwhile, is a little clumsier but tastes better than it looks.
It was always going to be hard to follow up the success of Mamasita, but B’Stilla is forging it’s own path. It follows the same ideals of authenticity, casual atmosphere, and value for money, but does so in it’s own unique way.