The rich culinary heritage of Armenia is presented with love and flair at the classy Sezar Restaurant where traditional dishes are brought into the 21st century with skilful cookery and the liberal use of warming spices.

Sezar Restaurant

Location: 6 Melbourne Pl, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Ph: (03) 9663 9882

If you’ve never tried the food of Armenia, you’re missing out.

Fortunately, that loss is easily remedied, as Melbourne has a fabulous modern Armenian restaurant bang in the centre of its East End District.

Armenian cuisine forms a venn diagram with some of the best-loved dishes of Turkey and Persia. This is hardly surprising as the country was caught in a tug-of-war between those 2 countries during Ottoman-Persian Wars.

Sezar Restaurant - Warrior Mural

The result is banquets redolent of the spices and techniques of the Middle East, given a distinctive edge. There are wood-fired Flat Breads, Spiced Lamb Kebabs, plenty of velvety Eggplant and numerous interpretations of Hommus.

Sezar Restaurant is the second venture from Chef Garen Maskal and his cousins Aret and Sasoon Arzadian. If the names sound familiar, it’s because this is the team behind the extremely popular Black Toro Mexican Restaurant in Glen Waverley. It also (in our humble opinion) might explain why the Slow – Cooked Lamb at The Black Toro is so exemplary.

But it’s the Lamb at Sezar that is of interest in this review, so here’s what we thought.

The Space

The chances are that you’ve passed by Sezar without even knowing that its there.

The restaurant is hidden away at 6 Melbourne Place, lurking down a discreet laneway. It’s a great part of town for quality dining options, with the hip Embla wine bar, funky Vietnamese fusion Straight Outta Saigon and ultra chic cocktail den Bouvardia, all within a stones throw.

The entrance is at the end of the lane, next to the Kelvin Club. Climb the stairs and you’ll be turned to the right and into the moody embrace of the dimly light establishment.

Sezar Restaurant - Lower Dining Room

The dining room is long and finishes with a slice of brightly illuminated open kitchen. To the right there’s a bar with a mixologist blending cocktails and polishing stemware. Banquettes sit along on wall, perfect for larger groups, whilst the rest of the tables suit couples and fours. There’s another level above, but I’ve yet to eat up there.

It’s sophisticated and chill, without feeling forced. It has the kind of ambience that invites intimate chatter amongst small groups of friends and lots of date night eye-contact.

The Food


Where to start? Well, since we’ve all kicked off with a Cocktail, Oysters ($42 for 6) seem the clear choice.

At Sezar, the creaminess of the Oyster flesh contrasts beautifully with a pleasingly tart Apple, Aniseed & Sumac dressing. It’s a promising start to our evening.

Sezar Restaurant - Cocktail & Oysters

From there, we dive into a plate of buttery-smooth Hommus ($18). Luscious and garlicky, here the humble Chickpea dip is elevated by a dizzle of nutty, smoky Brown Butter. It’s a simple accompaniment, but one which adds a glorious richness to the dish. On the side, stands a conical parchment of Toasted Lavash. Leaven bread has never tasted so good.

Sezar Restaurant - Kataifi Wrapped Lamb & Hommus

But then, I have a complaint. The Kaitaifi Wrapped Lamb (17 for 2pcs) – which looks like a platter of ultra-smart, mini sausage rolls – is far too dinky. I say this purely as these are one of the most addictive, crunchy morsels that I’ve had the pleasure of eating in quite a while. If you don’t know Kaifaiti Pastry, get yourself to a Greek or Middle Eastern grocer (Oasis Bakery is my go-to) and buy a packet. In this culinary marvel, strands of stringy pastry restrain lamb filling, aromatic with the scents of the Arabian Nights.

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Yep. We all absolutely love it. And it is devoured, all too quickly.

Small Plates

Next, we have flame-kissed BBQ Chicken Thigh Skewers ($27 for 2 pcs).

The char on them is great and – oh joy! – they are still juicy. The Skewers recline on a Preserved Lemon Toum & Whipped Tahini. The Toum has all the warm of garlic, but without any harshness and the Tahini lends a contrasting nuttiness.

Sezar Restaurant - Spanner Crab Manti & Chicken Skewers

Alongside the Chicken comes a bowl of delicate Spanner Crab Manti ($30). The neat little parcels of sweet Crab meat are blanketed in Yoghurt Sauce, then dusted liberally with sour, lemony Sumac.

At first glance, the 2 plates look like strange bedfellows, but they actually work really well together.

Mains & Sides

Despite beginning to feel quite full, we pep up when the Mains arrive.

The Spiced Roasted Chicken ($43) with Chickpeas, Barberry & Chicken Sauce is mouth-wateringly fine.

But the big expectations come with the Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder ($92). After all, the kitchens of the Middle East are rightfully renowned for the magic that they perform with Lamb. Plus, we’ve been in raptures over the Mexican version at Sezar Restaurant’s sister establishment, The Black Toro.

Not surprisingly, it doesn’t disappoint. Sprinkled in Armenian Spices, it falls into meltingly tender lobes of succulent flesh. It’s tremendous.

Now you may have noticed that this isn’t a cheap course. However, it’s not quite as pricey as it first seems as the Lamb includes 2 Sides of our choice. Although in the end, we get 3.

Sezar Restaurant - Tables of Mains

Our selection runs to the craggy, fluffy-centred Triple Cooked Chips ($17) with Aleppo Pepper, Garlic & Oregano.

As a veggie is always a must, we plump for the Honey & Date Glazed Carrot ($17). Now I confess I was wary of this dish as it sounded overly sweet to me. I shouldn’t have worried. The Carrots lie on dollops of creamy Smoke Labne which bring balance with their sour notes. In addition, there’s a Pumpkin Seed Dukkah for texture and a vibrant Zhoug, which lifts all the other elements.

It’s honestly one of the best Sides I’ve eaten in a long time.

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Our third Side announces its arrival with an alluring waft of tantalising scent. The Spiced Basmati Mujadarra ($16) honours it Levant origins with Lentils and fired Onions dotting the fragrant Rice. It’s one of those dishes that I wish found a place on more menus.


Baklava comes in many shapes and sizes. Thankfully, the one at Sezar manages to be both a tad different and fabulously more-ish.

Sezar Restaurant - Dessert - Baklava

The New Style Baklava ($17 for 2pcs) is a creation of Walnut Toffee Ice Cream, sandwiched between crisp layers of burnished filo pastry. The entire plate is then zig-zagged with Salted Caramel, dusted with candied Walnuts and topped with golden petals (Marigold, maybe?). It’s a brilliant finish to a memorable meal.

Leave It To The Chef…

As is often the case, we checked our free-will at the door and put ourselves in the hands of the kitchen.

At Sezar Restaurant, there are 3 Chef-controlled menus and we sampled the 4 Courses for $88pp. Additionally, for $60pp, we could have sipped on Matched Wines, but chose to defer on this occasion.

Another spot which does a great Feed Me menu that nails the tastes of the Mediterranean is SOWL Restaurant in Carnegie. Read our Review, here.


As I mentioned earlier, we threw ourselves into the evening with a round of Cocktails.

Unfortunately, we were so busy quaffing, that we forgot to note the names of our libations. However, there are a really glorious Apricot-based drink that I could happily polish-off again.

Sezar Restaurant - Dining Room - Girls

If you wish to go with grapes after your Cocktail, take note: Sezar was a Glass Winner in Australia’s Wine List Of The Year Awards 2019.

But rather than imbibing by the Glass, my companions order a Pinot Noir and I a Gin & Tonic and everyone is content.


Sezar Restaurant is a must-try for anyone enamoured with the warm hospitality and cosseting spices of Middle Eastern cookery.

Every dish has it own distinct – and delicious – flavour profile. Even the cocktails are infused with the aromats of the Levant.

Throw in discreet, but attentive service, and a secretive basement vibe, and you’ve got a great spot for a rendez-vous.

Melbourne may not have many Armenian restaurants, but at least this one is stellar.

Faye Keenan
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