Cairns now boasts a moroccan/north african restaurant that has enjoyed much success in other parts of Australia, the Mecca Bah.
The latest iteration of this chain was opened at the Harbour Lights complex near Trinity Inlet in the middle of 2010 and we stumbled upon it on our return from a snorkelling excursion at the Great Barrier Reef. After spending the entire day with a boat load of excited tourists, students and crazy on board entertainment, the new Mecca Bah stood out like an oasis of calm and we couldn't resist stopping for a 'refreshment' or two...
With the sun going down on an overcast day and the wind having whipped up while we were out to sea we wanted to warm up. We started with a pot of turkish apple tea. The eager manager, having been brought in from the Brisbane restaurant convinced us to try the Lebanese Ladies Fingers. These traditional pastries were a pleasant surprise. The manager assured us that the chef had mastered them and they took great pride in preparing them. He wasn't wrong, we often buy lebanese or greek sweets and these were exceptional. The pastry was crisp and light and delicately drenched in the sugar syrup (as opposed to the honey syrup you normally find in greek sweets). It tasted fresh and stood out against the bulk sweet stall variety. The perfect accompaniement to the tea.
While enjoying the sumptuous decor and relaxing ever so much we all convinced each other to try the cocktails. One lemon meringue, apple mojito and diablo (check the photo of the menu for composition) were served, Delicious and refreshing the enjoyment of these would so clearly be dependent on the skill behind the bar. We were lucky that afternoon but as the restaurant started to fill with the early dinner crowd we noted a few teething problems with other tables (forgotten orders etc).
Their official opening was the next evening so we were in the midst of their trial run. In fact we were patently made aware that the opening was to be a grand affair, closed guestlist and many many phone calls were overhead to ensure the attendance the various local media and celebrities. The cockiness of the manager left us bemused but his professonalism and attention to detail were flawless. While there was a certain arrogance or confidence about the place already based on their success in the main centres around the country it still had the opportunity to be a favoured spot among tourists as well as locals. When quizzed about their menu, there was no intention of taking advantage of the local produce (which is fantastic) to develop uniquely "Cairns" dishes to add some magic. Seemed a pity as our other dining experiences in the area outclassed Mecca Bah in that respect.
After searching for impressions of others, there is a noticeable absence of reviews or interest in its first six months of operation. Seems a shame as it can be a pleasant, simple dining experience in a wonderful location, particularly if you are a fan of the cuisine.