UPDATE April 2013:
Given our successful dining experiences at Kiva Han, it seemed like a great idea to try their new dinner menu.
Unlike breakfast and lunch, dinner’s a Meze menu consisting of small share plates priced between $10 and $15, less for dips and olives. On the waitress’ advice, we order a couple of dishes each from the choice of twelve: a trio of dips and an antipasto platter, two pides, grilled zucchini fingers finished with sundried tomatoes and aged parmesan, roasted lemon potatoes, Greek lamb meatballs, grilled calamari and octopus.
The food is of mixed Middle Eastern/Mediterranean origins, tasty enough, but dishes are small. Service is very casual, even laid back, with dishes appearing in too random an order for our needs.
Choices were limited for vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free, nor were they noted on the menu.
But the real disappointment was the pide, which arrived at the end of our meal. Priced at $14, what should have been the mainstay of the menu, a fresh filled boat of Middle Eastern bread accompanying the meat and dips, we are served a quarter of a pide, five half slices reheated under the grill. (A little calculation tells me that a whole pide would cost $56!) Sad!
An authentic Meze menu makes sense, due to Kiva Han’s origins, however some larger share plates are needed, as are more generous serves and a tighter service.
Kiva Han is now a fully licensed venue with four Burleigh Brewing beers and seven wines on offer. No BYO.
Naming your restaurant after the oldest known coffee shop in the world is stepping into big shoes, claiming a birthright, becoming part of a heritage, or all three.
Kiva Han opened in Constantinople, now Istanbul, in 1475, after Ottoman Turks brought coffee from Yemen to Turkey. Coffee was the subject of both divorces and wars and was spread by dervishes, traders and conquerors throughout Europe and the New World to become the most consumed beverage, reputedly second only to oil as the world’s most traded commodity.
So when our own Kiva Han opened at Mermaid Beach, we had high expectations. Its premises had been a corner store, a location which had changed owners several times, and had not been well utilised. That was about to change!
In the new fit out, a jagged dividing wall splits the original space into two. Kiva Han is the first to be developed, a restaurant café which roasts its own coffee, the owners creating a huge concertina window and new entrance tucked around the corner onto Sunbrite Avenue. The second business, a bar fronting out to the highway, will open in 2013.
Kiva Han is a very stylish shop space which captures the semi-industrial vibe perfectly, yet is comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. There’s lots of eye candy, not just in the levels and textures of the surfaces, on the walls with their featured graphics and vintage photographs of working class America, in the gleam of stainless steel roasters offset against rustic timber feature walls and hammer finish tiles, but also in the crisp presentation and professionalism of the staff. Smart, stylish and buff! Mmmm…
“We’d wanted to open a roasting house for years,” partner Tobias Diamandopoulos tells me, “but we had to wait until we found a venue with a high enough roof.”
The two roasters are an essential element in Kiva Han’s success. With beans imported from PNG, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Peru and Bolivia, the owners can choose the quality of their organic beans, freshly roast and blend to suit their need, increasing the quality while greatly reducing the cost of the coffee. The house blend of intense Ethiopian beans with sweet but less intense PNG beans is the perfect brew for our flat white, smooth and creamy. Tobias insists that only a few of the staff make the coffee, keeping consistency of standard.
Our meals were excellent as well. We’ve dine on two occasions: once for a lunch when we enjoyed Atlantic salmon, served as per our request with salad instead of truffle mash, broccolini and asparagus, the Main Squeeze enjoying strips of tender Marinated Lamb with chargrilled vegetables and truffled mash, both under $20. Although made to order, the meal was promptly delivered, cooked as requested, and beautifully presented – there’s love on this plate! If we’d been on the run, there’s a cabinet full of Panini or sweet treats to go with takeout coffee.
Another morning for breakfast, it’s the Eggs Benedict on organic sourdough – one of the best bennies we’ve tasted, as the hollandaise is home-made! Some other more adventurous breakfasts beg for a return visit: both the Menemen (organic eggs in a pepper and tomato salsa with chargrilled capsicum) and the Mushroom topped with fetta, rocket and pine nuts breakfast, which sounds like a vegetarian’s delight! Organic, free-range, hormone-free, vegetarian, gluten-free – they’re all there on this thoughtful, well-balanced menu.
It may be a hard act to follow the old Kiva Han, but you’ll have to look hard to beat the new one as well. It’s a great all rounder and we’re bound to be regulars!
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