Home to everything from sweet little shops and cosy cafes, to underground bars and intimate diners, Melbourne's CBD laneways are a veritable treasure trove of things to see, eat and do. No matter what day or time it is, take a walk through one of the city laneways and you're sure to discover something new tucked away in a secret Melbourne nook 'n' cranny.
So, if discovery is the name of the game, we have stumbled upon an absolute winner – a Melbourne restaurant offering mouth-watering traditional Armenian cuisine with a modern twist.
Who exactly are we referring to? Well, Urban Listers, we think it's high time we introduced you to Sezar – our latest laneway find, craftily tucked away at the end of Melbourne Place in the CBD, and dishing up some of the best Middle Eastern food in Melbourne.
Inspired by traditional Armenian flavours, along with the influences of neighbouring countries, Sezar dishes up mouth-watering share plates and charcoal meats, along with flavoursome sides, sweet treats, and a very well-stocked drinks list that can all be enjoyed over two levels of dining.
We suggest starting the night with a drink or two, and with some of the city's best cocktails on offer you'll be spoilt for choice. Why not try the Sezar Express, a tart yet sweet combination of Plymouth Sloe gin and raspberry puree, or perhaps the Dr. Kevorkian, Sezar's version of a mint julep? Pretty as a picture, yet devilishly delicious, Sezar's cocktails pack a punch and are the perfect way to ease into your Armenian feast.
Speaking of a feast, well, we hope you're wearing something with an elastic waist! Sezar do small, medium and large share plates, often changing with the seasons to ensure only the freshest, most flavoursome produce is used. Sezar is also one of the best restaurants in Melbourne for late night noshing, with the full menu available until late (they have a 3am license!) on weekends.
So, where to begin your Middle Eastern food journey? The oysters with compressed apple and anise are an excellent start, followed by the crispy potato and soujak kofte with tangy red pepper aioli. The seared Hervey Bay scallops are another winner from the 'small' menu, and the spinach and feta boreg was so moreish we had our hands smacked away when we went for seconds. (Note to self: remember that there's more to come!)
The 'medium' menu at Sezar takes it up another notch, with dishes covering everything from grains and fish, to both white and red meat – everything imbued with incredible Middle Eastern flavours. Considering our obsession with seafood, it's no surprise we fell in love with the spanner crab manti (Armenian dumplings served with sumac yogurt and chilli oil) and the cured ocean trout; however, it was the meat that totally wowed us. Cooked over a charcoal grill, giving it that smoky sumthin' sumthin', the spiced lamb kebab and BBQ wagyu tenderloin were both tender, juicy and melt-in-your-mouth good.
It gets bigger and better from there, Urban Listers – the 'large' dishes are not just big in size (trust us, these are ones you'll want to share with friends) but also big in flavour. If your stomach space is limited and you want to go all out with just the one large dish, go for the slow cooked lamb. Served with sides and sauces, the lamb is Sezar's standout meal and will EASILY feed two people (and then some!). Otherwise, the spiced BBQ chicken and the roasted barramundi are worthy winners, too.
What's a night out at an amazing Melbourne restaurant without dessert, hey? If you're anything like us, your second stomach will be ready to rock 'n' roll now…and if not, best you find one, stat, because the desserts at Sezar are too good to miss out on. From baklava with walnut toffee ice cream and salted caramel, to semolina cake with slow cooked quince, almonds and crème fraiche, the desserts are absolutely killer. Can't make a decision? The dessert tasting plate covers all the bases.
If all that decision making just sounds too hard, then sit back and let Sezar take care of it for you with one of their banquets. There are two options available, both including dessert, with banquet menus tailored to suit each dining group. That's right, there's no 'you gotta eat this' and 'you gotta eat that' banquet here folks! Just let the Sezar team know any dietary requirements and preferences you may have and they'll create a Middle Eastern feast to suit the fussiest of diners.
Whether you're after dinner and drinks, or even just a cheeky weekday lunch, make sure you seek out Sezar – it's one laneway find that'll keep you coming back for more.
TUL Note: Today's List Love post is proudly sponsored by Sezar and endorsed by The Urban List. Our sponsored posts will never be a secret — the List Love seal will be stamped on any sponsored material you see on the site. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make The Urban List possible.
Image Credit: Michelle Jarni for The Urban List