The front window of Téta Mona is superimposed with the black and white face of a young woman. It is the titular Mona, the grandmother of proprietors Antoine and Bechara Taouk, and the image is taken from the original immigration photo taken on her arrival to Australia from Lebanon in the 1950s.
The twin brothers could think of no better person to encapsulate the feeling desired for their first business together. “We grew up eating her food, and she’s my idol,” says Bechara. Having both worked for years honing their skills at Preston icon Cedar Bakery, which was owned and run by their grandfather, Antoine says, “We’d always worked in hospitality, always cooked together… We just thought it was time to be doing our own concept.”
Bechara helms the kitchen, while Antoine looks after the floor – “I’m the talker, he’s the baker!” – and the atmosphere is as warm and comforting as Téta (“Grandma”) Mona’s traditional village recipes, which are presented using the best in wholefood ingredients.
A bakery and cafe by day, a restaurant serving Lebanese soul food at night, the menu is wall-to-wall with traditional Lebanese dishes, from falafel served with pita, tart pickles and dribbly tahini, to a variety of pastries hand made by Bechara filled with fresh spinach and squeaky haloumi, or aromatic spiced lamb. Round out a meal with a fresh glass of rosewater crush, or a big bowl of Muhallabieh – cinnamon and orange blossom brown rice pudding, dotted with walnuts. It’s properly rib-sticking, the way good rice pudding should be.
With locals quickly cottoning on to the good food and casual, friendly atmosphere, Téta Mona has all the potential to become a new inner-north favourite. Who knows, you may even run into Mona herself.
100a Lygon Street, East Brunswick
(03) 9380 6680
Tues to Thurs noon-10pm