We met up with a couple of friends at Talk of the Town for a south-side dinner on a Monday night. Despite the name, I'd never heard of this place before, but our dining companions assured us it was worth a visit. It's a pretty basic-looking Lebanese place - there's a big cabinet loaded up with food, about ten tables and a no-frills kind of atmosphere.
Still, you don't eat atmosphere, and the menu had a lot to get excited about: falafel, veggie kibbeh, vine leaves, stuffed capsicum, cabbage rolls and tons and tons of salads to choose from. Nearly all of the veggie dishes are vegan, and the staff are happy to talk you through your options. Options are kind of the problem - there were far too many dishes to choose from, so we sent Craig up to figure out an order for the table.
He came through with the goods, ordering up a falafel and dips entree ($8.50), a stuffed capsicum ($9), a couple of veggie kibbeh ($6 each) and a selection of five salads ($5 each, although I think there might have been some bulk discounting going on).
The falafel were excellent, and well served by the hummus, babaganoush and pickles that accompanied them, and the kibbeh (pumpkin crust around a leek and silverbeet filling) were superb, but the real stars of the show were the salads. We ordered the green beans with tomato paste, onions and spices (above, bottom-right), the eggplant and potato with tomato paste, garlic and cumin seeds (below, top-right), the chickpeas with silverbeet and mint (above, top-right), the fried eggplant with walnuts, garlic and za'atar (below, bottom-left) and the mejadara (rice and lentils, below, bottom-right).
There were split opinions as to the best dish of the night, with the fried eggplant and the potato eggplant both getting rave reviews and the spicy beans hitting the mark surprisingly well. It was all fresh and interesting enough for us to polish off everything without any trouble - a pretty impressive feat given how much food there was on the table.
The proprietor generously served us up a selection of fudge to cap the meal off - this wasn't vegan, so Cindy and I scoffed it all and he even more generously dished up some Turkish delights for the other two to take away with them.
We had a great time at Talk of the Town - the food is cheap, varied and delicious, the service is efficient and friendly and the corkage of $1 per beer is pretty damn reasonable. We don't get to Elsternwick that often, and when we do we usually wind up at Ren Dao. It's great to have another option along Glen Huntly Road - we'll be back to work our way through the rest of the salad menu.
Only little white truths and Spatula, Spoon and Saturday have reviewed LTOTT - both were generally enthusiastic.
Lebanese Talk of the Town
446 Glen Huntly Road, Elsternwick
menus: one, two
Accessibility: There's a step on entry and a fairly narrow dining area. You order and pay at a high counter. We didn't visit the toilets.