Two of Sydney’s best-loved hospitality crews are teaming up once again to open Shwarmama, a new 10-seater falafel and shawarma venue in Surry Hills. Mat Lindsay (Ester, Poly) and Russell Beard, Mark Dundon and Jin Ng (Paramount Coffee Project, Paramount House Hotel) will launch the new venue in September.
The diner will be open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night bites seven days a week. It’ll be fully licensed with a streamlined menu of just four items: spice-marinated lamb shawarma (a Middle Eastern way of prepping meat, similar to doner) wrapped in laffa flatbread; fresh pita stuffed with herby fried-to-order falafel, garlic sauce, mango pickle and cabbage; sabich, an Israeli breakfast sandwich packed with fried eggplant and boiled eggs; and the team’s take on the halal snack pack, the NHSP (not halal snack pack).
Booze options will be equally minimal, with a red wine, a white wine, beer and craft soda. Beard, who also owns coffee house Rueben Hills, says the diner will offer espresso, but guests will likely serve themselves, adhering to the venue’s casual vibe.
“We were going through a phase at Ester of making shawarma-style things for Sunday lunches, and got really excited about it,” Lindsay says in a statement. “I half-jokingly threw the idea out there to Russell, and here we are. It’s a bit of an experiment.”
The space has been designed by Anthony Gill (who worked on Ester and Poly) and will have bright graphics from Brisbane designer Shyanne Trutwein, which will appear both across the venue and on a range of merch.
Lindsay will be looking after the menu, while the Paramount House team will be taking on more of an operational role. He’ll be using NSW lamb on his shawarma spike, and says the falafel will be ultra-herbaceous, and very traditional. All hot sauces, pickles and condiments will be made on-site, and a focus on sustainability means no aluminium or plastic will be used for takeaway orders. Locals will be able to get their fix delivered.
Shwarmama is slated to open early September at shop 2, 106–11 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills.