Niko Giourgas greets every customer who comes into Omeio by name. He hands out coconut sorbet to kids, and enthuses over a new chocolate, offering people a taste.

Omeio (rhymes with “Romeo”) is a neighbourhood deli and cafe on a residential street in Paddington. It’s the sort of spot where locals will pop in to buy milk (from micro dairy, The Pines, in Kiama) and run into their neighbours for a chat.

Originally an online food business (that’s on hold for a few months), Giourgas missed the chance to interact with customers.

“We want to offer a different experience,” he says. “People come up from the house barefoot. They sit outside, meet their neighbours. They might have a coffee at the deli counter, watch us cut the meat and we give them something to try.”

Giourgas is French and Greek, and grew up all over Europe; his parents were in the hotel business. Good service is in his blood, as is quality produce.

“In Paddington people are well travelled and sophisticated about food. They understand straight away the idea of supporting local artisans, and small batch produce versus mass produced and highly processed foods.”

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Most of Omeio’s suppliers are local. Sourdough is from Organic Bread Bar on South Dowling Street; pickles from Sydney’s Westmont, and smoked hot sauce from Church Farm in Billinudgel, NSW.

The cafe menu is made from whatever is in the shop; the menu changes daily. “We make home-made Greek-inspired meals,” says Giourgas. “Today we have moussaka, spanakopita. Things your grandmother might spend all day cooking; we do it here because we know people are short on time.”

The European influence is strong. The plat du jour is a Parisian sandwich spread with cultured Pepe Saya butter, smoked ham and brie. There’s also a classic Italian salad with croutons, mozzarella and rocket. Avocado toast is done on brioche.

At the deli counter, there’s a small selection of meats and cheeses, ready to be taken on picnics. Obeca, a manchego-like cheese with a rosemary crust, pairs well with the Wagyu beef bresaola. Triple-cream brie complements the truffle salami.

Coffee comes from boutique roaster The Big Marquee and the beans are grown exclusively in Queensland. “Our coffee is low in caffeine and organic because Australia doesn’t have pests, so we don’t have to spray.”

31 Macdonald Street, Paddington

Tues to Fri 7am–6.30pm
Sat and Sun 8am–4pm