The sad news that Andy Bowdy and Maddison Howes’s beloved Enmore Road bakery, Saga, was closing in June was, thankfully, quickly followed by an announcement that Bowdy would be opening a new venue very soon.

The new spot, Salma’s Canteen, opened in Rosebery this week. It’s a joint venture with Michael Rantissi and his wife, Kristy Fawley, the talented pair behind Kepos Street Kitchen.

Salma is a given name that means peace and safety in Arabic, and it has personal significance for Rantissi.
“[Salma] is my mum, who’s extremely generous with her time and with food,” he tells Broadsheet. “She loves hosting, she loves her family. She will send you home with hundreds of leftovers. That, to us, is what Salma’s is.”

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Airy, plant-filled and welcoming, the red-brick Botany Road space is awash with sunlight from large street-facing windows. There’s terrazzo underfoot and shelves stacked with a rainbow of jars filled with house-made pickled carrot, beetroot and cauliflower. In the fridge you’ll find a mix of sodas, dips, sauces and meals ready for the oven. There’s no coffee machine here – instead coffee drinkers can choose between a batch brew or cold-drip.

The focus here is on easy eating: bountiful salads, Rantissi’s salmon pastrami and Bowdy’s pies ready to eat (or empty shells to take home and fill). “It’s just delicious, simple food with the most beautiful ingredients that we can source, put together in the simplest format,” Rantissi says.

The $18 salad plate – a lunchtime saviour – gets you a trio of rotating seasonal salads. This week’s options included vibrant scoops of broad bean and broccoli; a slow-roasted fennel mix; scorched cauliflower with ruby pomegranate jewels; and creamy potato salad. Add hunks of salmon, kofta and sizeable schnitzels for a protein boost.

Opening week also brought a line-up of Saga favourites to the pastry cabinet. Pete’s Pav is a star: smooth meringue filled with key-lime curd and a toasty mix of roasted wild rice and Chantilly, with a crown of halved blackberries and sugared lime zest.

There are sweet banana cream pies and a yoghurt-mousse-topped fennel cake dotted with mandarin jam and delicate sprigs of candied fennel. A dark toffee-coloured choux bun is covered in crunchy almond praline, while inside rum custard meets maple Chantilly and pops of sour cherry. Gluten-free options include a pear and hazelnut upside-down cake, and savoury treats too.

Then there’s the Karl Cake – a big, bold Bowdy classic. If you haven’t laid your eyes on one before, imagine a stack of dark chocolate-cake layers slathered with rich buttercream, crushed peanuts and salted caramel, with a torched lick of meringue as a celebratory topper.

Salma’s Canteen
Shop 2, 797 Botany Road, Rosebery

Tue to Sat 11am–7pm
Sun 10am–4pm