To the dismay of many Sydneysiders, Saga’s Andy Bowdy and Maddison Howes announced the closure of their much-loved Enmore Road cafe this month, after more than six years on the strip. But Bowdy assured Broadsheet it wouldn't be the end of his renowned cakes and cult sandwiches: “I will still be making all the stuff that I make at Saga, but I will be joined up with someone else.”
Described as a “one-stop shop” with an ever-changing menu, Salma’s has been a year in the making, and will open in Rosebery – just around the corner from The Cannery – on Wednesday July 12.
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Rantissi tells Broadsheet the venue will tap into his familial roots, which represent warmth and hospitality. “[Salma] is my mum's name, which translates to ‘peace’. But we have not called it Salma because it’s my mum; we called it Salma’s because we wanted people to have a reference,” he says.
“Everybody has their own Salma. It could be your brother, your sister, your uncle – just someone that is incredibly hospitable. To me it’s my mum, who’s extremely generous with her time and with food. She loves hosting, she loves her family. She will send you home with hundreds of leftovers. That, to us, is what Salma’s is.”
The team will source produce from Carriageworks Farmers Market, and won’t be fitting their offering into a pigeonhole or label. “[All of us] come with a totally different palate, we all come from different backgrounds, and that is what’s beautiful about it all,” Rantissi says. “We don’t have to say it’s Middle Eastern, we don’t have to say it’s Australian. If we want a lamington, we’ll have a lamington. If we want hummus in the deli, we’ll have that. That’s how people eat in Australia.”
As promised, Bowdy is set to deliver a sweet fleet of Saga classics. Think passionfruit and fennel palmiers, the salted honey tart and, when in season, yuzu cheesecake. Bowdy and Rantissi will both contribute to the deli side of things, with a salmon pastrami, as well as sweet and savoury pies. Although there’s no espresso machine, there’ll be batch brew and cold-drip by rotating coffee roasters.
As for naming it after his mum and not Bowdy’s, Rantissi says: “Hopefully [she] doesn’t kill the two of us.”