It’s not all that often that you get to experience Middle Eastern food without the unwavering, over-the-top gusto typically found in pillowed rooms with coin-flecked scarves (or in the dark corners of a Saturday night en route home). But Bondi’s Sefa Kitchen has you covered for refined Middle Eastern food, made for sharing and savouring, in a setting designed for whiling the night away.
The space has all the warmth of a Moorish-inclined decor, without the expected excesses. Instead, it’s all exposed brick, a scattering of Middle Eastern film posters, and brightly coloured soft furnishings. Owner Utku Ayhan says, “I wanted to provide a cheeky, feminine and fun atmosphere that’s different to the traditional style of some Middle Eastern restaurants.”
Head chef Evan Pemberton, previously Simon Zalloua, takes traditional Middle Eastern fare and peppers it with modern sensibilities. “The menu is an interpretation of the dishes from my Lebanese upbringing, with added inspiration from the Levant and Moorish cooking traditions,” Zalloua says.
As a result, Sefa boasts one of those faultless menus that, though not overly extensive, still presents quite the challenge when it comes to deciding what to order. There are some unexpected offerings, like a slice of haloumi drenched in honey and za’atar, and a beef short rib fasoullia that falls from the bone. Take note of the deceptively simple-sounding dishes, like the potato with coriander, which offers crisp comfort alternated with aromatic punches. The lay of the land at Sefa is an impeccable balance of flavours and textures – pretty on the plate, but at the same time begging for a group of dining companions to make a mess of it.
If the dinner menu is any indication, Sefa’s breakfast and lunch sitting is sure to be an excellent Middle Eastern shake-up to your typical weekend brunch.
Mon to Fri 6pm–10pm
Sat to Sun 9am-10pm