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6° & CLEAR SKY ON WEDNESDAY 19 JUNE IN MELBOURNE
By Julia Sansone
May 01, 2019
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Balagan Kitchen

A modern Middle Eastern restaurant in Windsor run by a father-and-son duo.
By Julia Sansone
May 01, 2019
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BOOK A TABLE

The idea for Windsor's new modern Middle Eastern restaurant Balagan Kitchen was born when owner Luca Lorusso took a trip to Israel to celebrate his birthday.

Having run Toorak's Cafe Latte for just shy of 30 years, the Italian restaurateur fell in love with Middle Eastern culture and food, which resembled a familiar way of life to him: loud gatherings, sharing food and balagan — a Yiddish word borrowed from Russian (and before that Persian) — that means 'chaos' or 'mess.'

Partnering up with his son and self-taught graphic designer Sacha Lorusso-Zyskind, Luca opened Balagan Kitchen on High Street in Windsor just over three months ago. Though this lunch and dinner venue boasts a clean and minimal aesthetic, at peak times the restaurant is the living embodiment of balagan — patrons fill up the small space, quickly, and a slightly frenetic energy ensues.

Pink neon lights cover the walls and vibrant share platters cover the tables, and on the menu you'll find everything from beef brisket with pickled peppers ($28), a spiced half chicken with paprika and couscous ($30) and fish shakshuka ($33) — a meal commonly served for breakfast — all crafted by the venue's Iraqi-born head chef Akad Al-Guepa.

Green falafel balls (four for $12) and crisp filo pastry haloumi cigars (two for $13) are the hot favourites for starters, while the baked cauliflower served with pomegranate and a generous dollop of labneh ($16) is the perfect accompaniment to mains with bold, spicy flavours.

For lunch, between 12–4pm, the kitchen offers generous lunch trays for $17–19 a pop. They're platters packed with grilled chicken, roasted lamb or falafel and salad, pickles, dips and fluffy pita.

The halva semifreddo ($12) is the best way to end your visit to Balagan Kitchen — it's a dish that both the staff and patrons wholeheartedly agree is one of the most delicious items on the menu. This serving of halva (a soft, fudge like Middle Eastern dessert) is served with pistachio, dates and snow-white fairy floss.

Images: Julia Sansone.

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