A Lebanese deli named after a loving grandmother and dedicated to hand-made deliciousness has opened in Potts Point – a couple of doors down from Piccolo Bar and opposite Lady Chu.
“I have always loved slow cooking. I grew up with my mum running cafes, in Newtown and here in Potts Point,” Teta’s Deli owner Dina El-Kaddoumi tells Broadsheet.
Lining the shelves are jars of hand-pickled Jerusalem artichokes and wild baby cucumbers sourced from an aunty’s garden, as well as turnips, olives and baby eggplant. El-Kaddoumi describes the latter, which is stuffed with walnut, chilli, parsley and garlic, and submerged in olive oil, as “probably the most delicious thing ever” – especially when served with fresh bread. Meanwhile, in the fridge you’ll find house-made hummus and labneh, and black olives cured and marinated in sumac or chilli.
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There’s also a selection of products from Lebanon – from olive-oil soap to carob molasses and halva. It’s hard not to be tempted by the black cumin seed oil which promises to remedy “all diseases except death”.
If you’re not in a rush, take a seat on the bench in the window and order a “pliage”, which is El-Kaddoumi’s take on the manoush. It’s made with dough delivered every morning from her uncle’s bakery in Mount Druitt, and there are two options for fillings. For meat eaters, there’s the lahm bi ajeen (lamb ground with tomatoes, onion and spices) and for vegetarians, the za’atar (a blend of toasted sesame seeds and various herbs and spices, including sumac, oregano and thyme). Both are topped with salad and, if you’re keen, El-Kaddoumi’s house-made chilli sauce. A recommended accompaniment is jallab, a traditional Lebanese drink made with pomegranate, rosewater, pine nuts and ice.
Also look out for El-Kaddoumi’s weekly “surprises”. One week you might find warak enab (stuffed vine leaves) and another, green hummus made with fresh parsley, coriander, olive oil and nigella seeds.
Teta’s has a genuinely home-like feel, much like cafes found in villages across the Middle East and Europe. El-Kaddoumi transformed the pint-sized space with the help of builders and architects in her family. Think hand-hewn timber shelves, blue-and-white tiling, handwritten signs and eclectic ornaments. Floor-to-ceiling windows afford excellent street views, and El-Kaddoumi has plans to add outdoor seating, as well as Lebanese coffee, soon.
“Business has been good so far,” says El-Kaddoumi. “I have returning customers, so I’m happy about that … The thing is, it’s not just about food, it’s also about sharing the way I have learnt about my own culture, which is also about community, family and intimate spaces that feel like home.”