MOOR’S HEAD, CARLTON: Super excited to do this review because we just had such a fantastic time dining here! Moor’s Head in Carlton is a newly opened branch off the 11 year old Middle Eastern restaurant, Rumi, in Brunswick – which has hosted world class chefs such as Anthony Bourdain, and Heston Blumenthal. Needless to say, we were very excited to come here! The specialty of Moor’s Head lies in its tagline: “Inauthentic Pizza” – this means that traditional pizza toppings of mozzarella and tomatoes are replaced by warm and heart Middle Eastern flavours and spices instead – definitely one of its kind in Melbourne! Tucked away in a lofty, timber-panelled bar-like restaurant just off the busy Lygon Street, Moor’s Head did not only stand out in terms of its exceptional customer service, but also its carefully selected, unique combination of Middle Eastern flavours permeating through each of their dishes that left us with craving for more (if we had not been food coma-ed).
Fried Halloumi w. Pomegranate and Red Pepper Sauce – $12.0
The good fat: The more I have halloumi chips, the more I’ve grown to like them – especially when they’re fried to perfection like these ones. The texture was delightful! Golden and crispy on the outside, you might almost expect it to taste like an ordinary potato chip. What you don’t think of is the salty chewiness of the halloumi hidden within. I particularly enjoyed how these ones weren’t too fat and chunky, so that the golden crunch of the outside wasn’t lost amidst the richness of the cheese. This is a hearty entree, served with thick, smoky salsa with the slightest hints of spiciness coming through.
The bad fat: These are perhaps a little on the salty side, so make sure you have a drink handy! (We had delicious Turkish pomegranate and sour cherry juices to cleanse on the side)
Sweet Spiced Chicken Ribs – $13.0
The good fat: I’ve never tried chicken ribs on a skewer before so this was a fun experience! The tender was charred on the outside to give it a slight crunch, whilst being amazingly tender inside, with the meat just falling off the bone. Unfortunately I’m not enough of a spice expert to be able to taste exactly what spices were in this complicated mix, but overall, they produced a very classic, Middle Eastern taste. There were hints of chilli, a slight sweety-sourness altogether pulled back by a grounded earthiness. An enjoyable entree!
The bad fat: This was probably the most “common” entree, as it was a very standard, average chicken skewer that didn’t surprised me too much in terms of flavour. I would’ve liked a bit more “sweet” to it just for something slightly more interesting.
Spiced Lamb, Hummus, Roasted Pinenuts w. Bread – $15.0
The good fat: This was an exceptionally fragrant starter. The spiced lamb wafted a complex, appetising aroma grounded by the subtler flavour of the smooth hummus. A sprinkling of sumac added a gorgeous, red colour and a certain je ne sais quoi. But the pita bread was definitely the star of the show – soft, warm, and chewy, it was a far cry from the stale supermarket stuff I am used to. I could have eaten another basket of the bread alone – which, by the way, the staff were generous enough to offer – if they hadn’t also promised pizza. Altogether, with the slight graininess of the hummus, and the tender yet flavoursome lamb atop a slice of the pita bread was just perfect!
The bad fat: Nothing really, except if you were to be really picky or wanted a little bit more complexity in flavour, they could add a little more sumac on the hummus.
The Bosphorus (Tomato, Garlic Prawns, Black Chilli, Coriander) – $23.0
The Istanbuli (Spiced Roast Pumpkin, Spinach, Caramalised Onion, Tahini Yoghurt, Hazelnut Dukkah, Parsley) – $20.0
The good fat: Definite points for originality here – I can understand why they would want to open a standalone restaurant just for its pizzas. The two boat-shaped pizza delighted us with its thin and crispy crust, perfect just like the way they make it in Naples. The twist comes from the toppings. The Bosphorus was certainly unique. With a sweet pumpkin topping, it created a fascinating texture combination of biting into something so soft, smooth and sweet that contrasted with such crispiness of the crust underneath – you never experience with pizza elsewhere! The hazelnut dukkah lent the pumpkin a distinctly Middle Eastern punch of flavour. Generous dollops of tart tahini and a parsley garnish brighten up the taste. The tahini was the standout for me – being my first time trying this ground, sesame sauce I was blown away! I loved the earthiness of it balanced by a slightly sour kick from the yoghurt. What a complex flavour – YUM!
The Istanbuli was the one that hit the mark for us – what it had, and what the Bosphorous lacked, was that classic tomato sauce, just lifted by a few Middle Eastern spices. A much simpler pizza, the highlight of the Istanbuli was the prawns for sure. They were cooked absolutely perfectly to become little fresh pieces of refreshing juiciness that burst in your mouth, compensating for the drier crust.
The bad fat: The ingredients on the Bosphorus, whilst interesting, didn’t combine together to create something more special. They seemed quite standalone and very hearty on their own – but in the end, anything with tahini over it just did it for me 🙂
Cabbage Salad (Shaved Cabbage, Mint, Soused Onion, Caraway) – $9.5
The good fat: The owners were kind enough to offer us a salad too as a side, which definitely added to our experience. Middle Eastern flavours are known for the warm and richness, whilst the salad gave us that contrast and break from the pizzas. The cabbage was sliced very thinly and drizzled in olive oil and cumin seeds – once again, a quintessential spice. I enjoyed the refreshing crunch complemented by the mint and the subtle pepperiness from the cumin.
The bad fat: The spices were quite subtle, so in the end, it was rather a normal cabbage salad that worked nicely as a side but is probably a bit expensive for its resulting taste.
- Turkamisu (Inauthentic Tiramisu with cardamom coffee, Walnut Liquer and Crushed Pistachios) – $12.0
- Turkish Delight – $7.0
- Fresh Mint Tea – $2.5
The good fat: This classic combo never fails to impress, especially in this particular case. The Turkish delight was chewy and aromatic, the flavour of the rosewater coming through strongly. Perfect for cleansing the palate between bites, the tea cut through the sweetness of the dessert with its full-bodied mintiness. I felt like a million dollars sipping my clear golden tea out of a dainty flask and indulging in the decadence of the Turkish delight.
I could probably go on and on about the Turkamisu, especially as someone who is heavily biased towards desserts in general! Wow! This was a definite surprised to eat – what really made it for me was the unique addition of pistachios at the top. Pistachios are a delicious nut on their own, not too strong in flavour, and the initial crunch of it at the top followed by the smooth creaminess of the filling underneath just added that sensational twist in flavour. The cardamom coffee infused in the cream and the walnut liquer to form the bottom base just gave it that grounded Middle Eastern twist on a classic Italian dessert. Definitely astounded by the difference pistachio makes in both flavour and texture!
The bad fat: The Turkish delight was perhaps just a little too sweet for my taste – it’s particularly noticeable once the hit of rosewater disperses. The only thing about the Turkamisu was that the bottom base was slightly too moist from the walnut liquer that made it a little too sweet and soggy – it really would’ve been a perfect dessert if that base was a bit drier and crumbly instead, particularly as the moisture of the tiramisu already comes from its coffee cream filling.
SHOULD YOU GET FAT HERE?
YES – A stunner of a restaurant, relaxed vibes, and a delicious place to try things with a twist (which I always enjoy)
Guest contributor Claire Q.
CHECK OUT MOOR’S HEAD HERE: https://www.themoorshead.com/
2wofatgirls would like to thank The Moor’s Head for the invitation to dine – these opinions are strictly unbiased and were influenced in no way by the collaboration