When Jena and Abs Mehio sold their Magill Road cafe The Little Eastern two years ago, they knew their house specialty manoushi had to follow them.
The nine-inch flatbread, packed with fillings of spiced lamb, za’atar labneh or chicken, is the signature item on the menu at their new venture SAHA, which opened at the eastern end of The Parade last month.
It’s a welcome and long-overdue addition to the quiet suburban strip; previously, residents have had to head westward to the bustling end of The Parade for good food and coffee.
“We were at max capacity within a few months of opening [The Little Eastern],” Jena tells Broadsheet. “We wanted a bigger site that we could develop and grow.”
The new spot is a deceptively large space: a narrow warren of rooms and doors that extends out to a sunny suburban courtyard filled with tables and chairs; umbrellas; and a wooden cubbyhouse and children’s toys (when the Mehios say family friendly, it’s not just lip service). It feels like a home – partly because it was (the previous inhabitants lived behind the shopfront) – but the husband and wife team has built a sleek and contemporary fit-out amid the homey setting.
A central communal table – topped with the day’s paper, a pile of Kinfolk magazines and greenery from Botanica Boutique – was made from the door of the former venue’s cool room. It’s a subtle nod to the history of the building. Pull up a stool and have a chat with the neighbourhood regulars (or the Mehios’ young children, who often make an appearance) or kick back with a custom-blend coffee (from local roaster Rio Coffee) and enjoy the tunes coming from the speakers – you might hear Frank Ocean, Erykah Badu or Arrested Development; not a bad soundtrack to your weekend brunch.
Abs and his dad completed the renovation themselves; they’ve turned the aging interior into a light, bright and minimalist space. Two mysterious doors requesting customers “watch this space” await further reno. In the coming weeks these areas will be turned into a crèche-of-sorts and a multi-use “wellness space” for yoga, Pilates and mothers’ groups. A herb garden will soon be planted out back.
“We just want [to be] somewhere that nourishes the soul,” says Jena. “Whatever’s good for your soul, that’s what we do here, whether it’s the food; the children being minded for 10 minutes so you can have a coffee; whatever makes you feel good.”
Saha means “health” in Arabic, Jena tells us. The kitchen turns out wholesome all-day breakfast and lunch with a tilt towards vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free dishes. Chef Andrew Ivas (ex-Pave Café) serves Western favourites (smashed avo, eggs, pancakes and Bircher musesli) with Levantine flourishes: labneh, sujuk (spiced beef sausage), tahini and baba ganoush make for a distinct new offering in Adelaide’s crowded brunch market.
Lunch leans towards traditional Lebanese cuisine such as fattoush salad, mujadara (stewed red lentils and brown rice), kibbe (balls of cracked wheat and finely ground meat) and, of course, manoushi. The recipes are developed with Jena and Abs’s mothers, who will regularly poke their heads into the kitchen.
An outdoor mural from local artist Jack Fran features three door styles that represent SAHA’s fusion menu – “Middle Eastern, European and Western”.
A cabinet is stocked with quick grab-and-go options (think hummus; spinach pies; falafel wraps; and traditional sweets) made by Jena’s mum, who runs providore Samira’s Pantry. Her full product range (including tabouli, falafel and za’atar) will soon line the shelves alongside hand-blended teas from Saha Botanica by Angelica Hazel and organic protein powder from Happy Way as part of a soon-to-be-installed in-store shop.
303 The Parade, Beulah Park
Tue to Sun 7.30am–3.30pm