When Maloneys Grocer on Crown Street closed up shop for renovations locals bemoaned the temporary loss of their uber-convenient fresh food palace. But word soon got out that it had taken over the space next door (previously occupied by hair salon Prema) and was to reopen with an iteration of Shuk, Bondi’s much-loved Middle Eastern eatery, wedged between the Clock Hotel and the revamped grocer.
“Shuk has been evolving since it began almost 10 years ago,” co-owner Yoni Kalfus tells Broadsheet over coffee at the new Surry Hills digs. It’s a rare sunny day after weeks of rain, and the high street is bustling. Locals appear to be loving the partnership between their local grocer and the 16-seat cafe-bakery-shopfront hybrid. As is Kalfus, who says the partnership with Maloneys has been “an amazing experience”.
“There aren’t that many bakeries in the area,” he says. “And the response since we opened three weeks ago has been incredible.”
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In the decade since Kalfus and business partners Ariel Hefer and German Sanchez first opened Shuk on a suburban corner of North Bondi they have launched two spin-off venues in Bondi (Shuk Bakery and Shuk Falafel), plus cafes in Chatswood and Elizabeth Bay. Kalfus cites the vibrant bakeries of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem’s markets (“shuk” means “market” in Hebrew) as the inspiration behind head chef and co-owner Sanchez’s dishes.
“There is a lot of influence from North African and French-style bakeries in Israel,” says Kalfus. “In the markets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, every few stalls is a bakery. People in Israel eat a lot more baked goods than they do in Australia. Most people don’t really sit down for breakfast during the week. It’s a pastry or a rugelach with their morning coffee on the way to work.”
At the Surry Hills store, the counter is filled with bread and pastries baked daily: rugelach, bagels and challah sit alongside sourdough loaves, muffins and danishes. The team has cherrypicked key items from their original venues for the dine-in menu – devotees will be happy to hear that the much-loved avocado and goat’s curd toast has migrated from the Shuk bakery in Bondi. Plucked from the OG Shuk menu are the rosy shakshuka with capsicum and olives, hummus with chickpeas in tahini sauce, and slow-cooked lamb with hummus and pickles. Shuk products, including its Nutella crunch, almond granola, house-made pickles and croissants, will also appear on the shelves of Maloneys.
The new space has elements of Shuk’s signature style – fresh white tiles, a round table and long cafe counter – but Parisian cafe chairs along the footpath and terrazzo marble lean more urban-Euro than bustling Middle Eastern market.
Kalfus is about to take a well-earned break to visit family in Tel Aviv and check in on the cafes and bakeries of the region. “My parents send me photos every week of somewhere new they’ve been to. I get photos of sandwiches from them all the time! It’s mind-boggling how much there is going on there.”