We had a small moment of panic recently when we travelled past Mankoushe and saw that their bakery was papered over. Actually it was a sign of good things to come - a new wood-fired oven and renovated bakery space! On a rainy Friday night, we tested out the new stools instead of retiring to the back courtyard.
The Mankoushe folk aren't ones for staying still, and we typically notice new things on menu with every visit. Nevertheless they're consistent in offering numerous vegetarian options and a friendly nod to vegans - this time there were thirteen vegetarian items, six of them vegan.
Our first experience with the Iraqi pizza ($9, pictured right) was a good one - crispy edged and spread with tomato sauce, filled with spicy chickpeas and potatoes then topped with rocket. I was even more enamoured of the Phoenician ($10.50, last slice on the left); here the rocket concealed sauteed leek, silverbeet, celery and dabs of fresh ricotta. Gosh, do these guys know how to saute - thanks to their skills with a skillet, the oft-maligned celery becomes some kind of vegetable legend here.
Mankoushe classics like the za'atar bread, haloumi pie and falafel wrap are still for sale, but it's well worth trying out what else is new in that wood-fired oven.
You can read about one, two, three of our previous visits to Mankoushe Bakery. Since then they've also been written up positively on Ordinary Girl, Extraordinary Dreamer.
323 Lygon St, Brunswick East
Accessibility: There's a small step up through a narrow-ish entry and a bit of space in the front room. Toilets and courtyard are accessed via a couple of steps and a narrow, bricked path. We usually order and pay at a low counter.