What was a Fitzroy chocolate shop has now been turned into B’Stilla Cantina, an offshoot of South Yarra’s award-winning B’Stilla, and all I can say is GO GO GO! The crowds aren’t huge yet because people are still on holiday….but soon you won’t be able to perch on a stool, let alone grab one of only four pavement tables. I guarantee it.
The food will make you exclaim out loud. When Harry Met Sally style. Every bite, every mouthful – no words, only moaning.
The premise of B’Stilla Cantina is ‘Moroccan street food’. I have no idea what they eat on the streets of Morocco so I can’t judge whether B’Stilla Cantina is authentic. But the menu is full of spice, heat, colourful, texturally interesting – and cheap.
Case in point, their ‘Moroccan tacos’ are $5 each and more substantial than a traditional Mexican taco. They are encased in roti rather than tortilla and the fillings are generous. I went for chicken, avocado and apricot dressed with a mouth-burning chipotle sauce.
I then stuff myself with sardine fritters – Cuca sardines coated in a spiced chickpea flour, lightly fried and accompanied by a green chermoula mayo ($8) . In between I grab mouthfuls of the salads of the day, a Moroccan coleslaw and a beetroot and freekah salad, all dressed in the same chipotle mayo ($8).
Then I reach for the tower of melting lamb ribs ($12), dusted with an ochre dukkah and a squeeze of lime. The meat pulls off the bone without effort and their fattiness pair perfectly with the crunchy, fiery salads.
I have to take half my salad home because I want to save room for dessert. I’m glad I did too – the sweet b’stilla ($6) is a long cigar of flaky brik pastry filled with a lightly scented ginger creme and sprinkled with cinnamon and pistachios. It’s crunchy, melting, sweet and and sticky at once. The dish that is their namesake crowns what has been a sensational lunch.
When I spoke to the owner/chef he said that the hope was that B’Stilla Cantina will be successful and then the concept would be rolled out in other locations. I hope that happens soon because I predict that tiny little shop in Fitzroy very quickly won’t be able to cope with demand.