In Short: New Jaffa in Collingwood brings all the best of Israeli and Middle Eastern casual dining right to the back streets of Melbourne. With all the aromas and delights of a spice market, any selection on this menu is a delight. But our tip, don’t leave without trying the roasted cauliflower, and let the team delight you with the house mocktail!
Sacha has written about the pull of Collingwood on the Coco & Vine team in his Acoffee post, so it’s no surprise that as we wandered the streets checking out the cool vintage stores and eclectic boutiques we worked up an appetite and were keen to satisfy our tummies, and quickly! So as we strolled up from Aunty Peg’s, a new place captured our attention both by its name, and it’s minimalist, clean white interior.
New Jaffa is quite literally the new kid on the block, only opening its doors a couple of months ago. While we had no idea as we walked through the doors what cuisine was on the menu, we were pleasantly surprised to find Israeli and Middle Eastern food take centre stage. The smells and aromas coming from the kitchen instantly transported me back to the spice markets in Istanbul, and to lazy summer evenings sharing plates of food, stories, and laughs.
With the temperatures soaring outside, the house mocktail was exactly what this crew needed to quench our thirst. A refreshing, perfectly blended rose water with fresh passionfruit pulp and sprigs of mint had a midly sweet, yet tangy note and was delicious to the last drop! Mavis opted for an equally refreshing iced mint tea. The tea leaves were brewed, and then the concoction poured over ice and was light, and refreshing without an overpowering flavour of mint.
As we enjoyed the reprieve from the heat, the first incredible dish to hit the table was the roasted cauliflower. This was anything but boring, the perfectly cooked half-cauliflower was roasted just to caramelisation, which gave the exterior a slightly crunchy, almost sweet taste, but gave way to a moist and warm centre. It was light and aromatic with spices, but this humble dish was elevated with its tahini dressing layered with cinnamon, and the inclusion of a soft boiled egg, pickled green chilli, parsley and lemon. We all collectively made an ‘aahhh’ sound after our first, and all subsequent, mouthfuls!
The lamb and beef kebab were next on the list, with New Jaffa taking this back to its traditional Middle Eastern roots and serving them as three large meatballs, sitting in delicious sauce. Topped with diced tomatoes, herbs, green tahini, harissa paste, green chilli and garlic flavours, each meatball was cooked to perfection, moist and juicy all the way through and full of flavorful with each bite. Order up a side serve of pita bread to mop up every drop of the fabulous sauce.
While they sound simple, falafels are actually really hard to get right. They are one of my favourite foods, and my all time benchmark for the best falafels I’ve ever tasted are from Jasmine’s in Auburn, Sydney. Very few places meet the standard, but I had to take a chance and try New Jaffa’s take. I was not disappointed, the falafel pita is soooo good. One bite into the falafel and it reveals the crunchy outside, cooked with a slight caramelised crust that breaks away to a fragrant, delicious and moist centre. Encased all in a soft and fluffy pita with fresh diced tomato, cucumber, and onion, I won’t deny that I could have devoured more than just one of these!
With a focus on simple, quality ingredients, while bringing a little piece of Middle Eastern street-food to Australia, New Jaffa is a great example of why the Coco & Vine crew will keep coming back to the amazing streets of Melbourne’s Collingwood to discover more culinary wonders. Add it to the collection of awesome foodie places to put on your list while in Melbourne. We’ll definitely be back to indulge in the must-try Fricasse Sandwich!