Random girly meet ups are awesome. Especially when they revolve around food. Which is pretty much why #foodiegirlsgather is one of my favourite hash tags ev-er.
I'm not really sure why it started (although why does it need a reason anyway?), but due to this wonderful little twitter mechanism, I found myself with Fi, Lee and Lianne at Bayte in Collingwood on a rather cool April day.
Bayte is gorgeous and homely (the word 'Bayte' means home in Arabic, suitable huh?), with it's brick counters, warm orange walls and intricately detailed arabic lamps.
Between the four of us, we struggled to make decisions with the long and delicious sounding menu, with lots of things on it that we weren't familiar with, which always makes menu reading more time consuming, but rather educational as well!
Fortunately to tide us over, we had some beautiful chai lattes, which were served in these absolutely exquisite jugs (can you call them that?). I died for the chai, smooth and creamy, I loved seeing all the spices and tea leave stuck in the strainer when straining it out. Although not spicy, it had a very warm and rounded flavour.
Lee introduced us to 'dirty chai's' which I hadn't heard of before this meeting, which is essentially a chai with a shot of espresso in it. Whilst I don't drink coffee, I had a sip and it does seem to go rather well!
In the end we ordered too much (naturally), one dish each and something to share.
Lianne's spiced three egg omelette with dill, spring onion and mint, topped with raw yellow fin tuna kibbeh with lane and a fresh herb salad was a massive serve, but also quite light and fresh. I loved the dill, I loved the cool and zesty tuna, give me the herbs, all of them! I ended up ordering this myself when I visited Brad a couple of weeks later.
Fi and Lee shared a breakfast mezzo for two, with a selection of crudities, dips, grilled meat and fried eggs. Woah. Total smorgasbord here. Do you want everything from the Lebanese kitchen? Well here you go.
We helped the girls pick the plate apart, trying to figure out what everything was, dying over the baba ganoush together (smokey, so smokey and delicious) and couldn't quite figure out what one particular crumbly white block was, until a waitress informed us it was a house made lebanese cheese. Just lovely! It had such a mild and sweet flavour.
My plate was a little less sexy, but no less delicious! Zaatar spiced poached eggs served with a pumpkin and chickpea kibbeh with rustic hummus was simple, but just so beautifully executed. Yolks that just slowly seeped out of the egg white and went to flood the plate, nutty kibbeh (loved the texture) and the fluffiest of fluffy flat breads. I shouldn't have eaten it all. I nearly did.
Our item to share was one of the first dishes we chose, as Fi and Lee's eyes lit up upon seeing it. Sadly, checking the website and having visited recently, I don't think it's on the menu anymore! But let me reminiscence anyway!
A simple cabbage roll, filled with rice and vegetables in a clear tomato consomme (or something of the sort). Ah, piping hot, this was home cooked love. Hearty, the cabbage cooked so that it was soft and tender and the rice had just soaked up all of the broth it was sitting in. Absolutely a dream. There was also a rather surprising kick of chilli at the back, but a perfectly lovely surprise.
Now a #foodiegirlsgather session is hardly a gathering if there is no sugar at the end. Surely. Therefore we were naturally poking our noses around the dessert options which included some rather lovely looking baklava, but we were quick to be swayed by a fig brownie and home made ice-cream.
Whilst the brownie was lovely and dense, not too sweet, it's really the ice-cream that stole the show. There were two flavours, halva with pistachio and coffee with cardamom. Um. Do I really need to say much more?
Whilst the girls generally like the coffee with cardamom more (in the front), which was all coffee in aroma with a roundness to it, I was smitten, absolutely smitten with the halva and pistachio ice-cream. I want it to take it home with me. I'll take ten tubs. I'll finish it two nights. Maybe one.
I loved the nuttiness and that there was a bit of crunch in it, from the nuts swirled through. Happy sighs.
All the happy sighs. I left Bayte two hours later, a little behind on my work emails, but incredibly satiated. I love the calm and easy going energy to the place, the friendly waitresses who were utterly bemused by Lee's request for her 'dirty chai' and the twist from the usual for breakfast.
I visited with Brad again recently and we both enjoyed the little reprieve from tomato baked eggs, benedicts and thyme buttered mushrooms (although I still love them!). I've been singing praises to Bayte to anyone who'll listen me and urging people to visit.
They've only just opened for dinner service (last night was their first evening service I believe!) and I certainly look forward to popping by and checking out what's on offer to munch on with a glass of wine…
56 Johnson Street
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