Adi Shabtay and Guy Frawley didn’t intend to open a second cafe. Instead, the opportunity found them.

Aria Property Group, looking to round out a precinct that now features Gelato Messina, La Lune Wine Co and Chu the Phat, approached them about launching a second outpost for Naïm, their popular Paddington cafe.

“[It was] a great compliment to be sought out,” Frawley says. “The approach [from then] was always, ‘Whatever comes of this, let’s just be happy with the recognition’.”

With the help of Melbourne design studio The Stella Collective’s Hana Hakim, the duo set out to create a venue very different in feel to the homey Queenslander original. The end result is a striking, jade-tiled fit-out with mirrored ceilings and an ornate white marble and chrome hand basin.

“We wanted a warm and friendly venue that was inspired by my Middle Eastern background,” Shabtay says. “Hana has a Syrian background and really nailed exactly what we were looking for. Her use of the jade, gold tones and the hand basin really makes it feel like a mosque.”

The look might be different but the food is the same popular pan-Middle Eastern-inspired breakfasts and lunches. The Paddington operation delivers a daily rotation of hearty salads (think turmeric-roasted cauliflower and broccoli with tahini sauce, shaved almonds and rocket) and baguettes (pumpkin, basil pesto and zataar), all available on the run.

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These are accompanied by an abridged menu of Naïm favourites including Persian-fetta flecked smashed avo (for the more conventionally minded), and hummus with spiced chickpeas and an Israeli-style chimichurri served with flatbread. The front counter is stocked with sweets such as homemade brownies and Jewish apple cake (a dense, dairy-free style of apple cake).

Food is offset by a short selection of cold drinks and coffee by Sydney’s Single O.

Naïm on Melbourne
109 Melbourne Street, South Brisbane
(07) 3255 2058

Daily 6.30am–3pmïmmelbourne