The first thing you notice when you take a seat for lunch at the lovely, light-filled Sefa Kitchen is the tables are covered with newspaper. Most of the food is served on big share platters, for diners to wrap up in bread and eat with their hands. Juice will inevitably burst out of your savoury bread package and run down your wrist. You can request a plate if you prefer, and cutlery is also optional, but owner Utku Ayhan hopes people will just tuck in with their hands and use plenty of napkins to mop up the delicious mess.
The restaurant is a Bondi mainstay, and serves food from the Levant – an ancient region that includes parts of the Middle East, such as Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Syria, Cyprus and the south-east corner of Turkey. On weekends it serves Egyptian lunches – a spread that includes fluffy house-made lafah (flatbread you find in the Middle East), and a selection of bowls that can include a mix of slow-cooked lamb, fish, spiced chicken or Israeli salad. There are also North African dips, clove-spiced house-made pickles and other produce from Sefa’s garden out the back.
There are some easy-drinking cocktails to match the lunch – the Egyptian Hibiscus Spritz (hibiscus tea, vodka, ginger, prosecco) and the Musky Istanbul (house-made limonata, mescal and mint) – and there are desserts of deconstructed baklava with rose jelly, or rhubarb made three ways and served with halva cream (the Turkish equivalent of crème brûlée).