We've long been aware of Tiba's Lebanese restaurant on Sydney Rd but our few previous attempts at visiting were all comically thwarted. It seems that every time we've thought to dine there it's been during Ramadan, and therefore impossible to secure a table after sunset. Funnier still, our recent successful visit also occurred during Ramadan, albeit at lunch time. There's far less competition for tables then.
Both of us being ravenously hungry and keen to sample across the menu, we didn't spend too much time perusing the menu before deciding upon the $13 vegetarian set menu. The wait seemed unfairly long, given how greedy we were and how sparsely filled the restaurant was, but when the food arrived there weren't any half measures. We were served a large platter of goods each, with a massive bag of flat breads on the side.
It was an absolute FEAST. The tabouli and chickpea salads were lovely (and not too onion heavy) and the stuffed vine leaves, not usually a favourite of mine, even tickled my fancy. The falafel were some of the best I've eaten anywhere, just heavenly dipped into the yoghurt and cucumber dip. But the yoghurt barely got a look in once I tasted the smoky, silky babaganouge. Incredible! As I begin to fill up, my allegiance shifted to the delightful and slightly-less-rich hommos. The green salad and pickled turnip added some welcome freshness. The only let-down was the cheese pie, bland and very dry. (Vegan note - I would imagine that everything bar the cheese pie and yoghurt dip would be vegan-friendly, and I'd venture that this plate is still well worth $13 with those items omitted.)
Michael, in a heroic effort, nearly cleared his plate. I didn't. But I didn't regret my order one bit. It was a terrific way to sample Tiba's vegetarian wares and I'll order my favourite items with confidence next time.
Service was passable - attentive to begin with and then difficult to regain after we'd ordered - and it could be remarkably different when filled closer to capacity. It'd have to be atrocious, though, before it discouraged me from more of these falafel and dips.
Tiba's Restaurant has also been blogged at Vegan About Town, Baked Eggs and Boyfriend Blazers, Hookturns, Confessions of a Food Nazi, Off the Spork and What's On My Plate.
Address: 504 Sydney Road, Brunswick
Ph: 9380 8425
Price: vegetarian set menu $13