Slip down an alley to Shaffa, a beautiful restaurant that brings Tel Aviv’s cosmopolitan food scene to Surry Hills
Erez Nahum wants visitors to his new Tel Aviv-inspired Surry Hills restaurant Shaffa to feel like they are at a dinner party with their companion.
“Shaffa is your best friend’s house,” says the chef-owner Broadsheet. “This is where you feel comfortable, taken care of. Where is better than going to your best friend’s house for that? “.
From the relaxed and friendly service at the fresh produce market table and an open kitchen that blends into the middle of the dining room, every detail of Shaffa is designed to be noticed but not noted. It strives to reproduce the ambience of a Middle Eastern market, right in the heart of downtown Sydney.
Diners must walk through a narrow alley between a 120-year-old church and a 19th-century inn to enter the modern indoor-outdoor space, surrounded by a spectacular 10-meter-high glass roof designed by architect Vince Squillace. You can sit in a prime position at the chef’s bar or in the dining area under the atrium, or head to the indoor bar – a space originally built in the 1850s.
“We turned down amazing, fully equipped restaurant spaces – we had to wait for the right one,” says Nahum. “Navigating an alley between buildings is like Tel Aviv. You can feel the energy in the walls, in the room. ”
The menu is inspired by the many influences that inform the cosmopolitan cuisine of Tel Aviv, from the Middle East to Europe. A saffron chicken and yogurt shawarma (currently cooked on gas but soon to be charcoal) is enlivened by a tangy tomato salad, and completed with the addition of caramelized sweet onions.
There’s burrata with earthy matbucha – a mashed vermilion pepper and patiently cooked tomato – and a Black Onyx hanger steak, sat among pickled onions, mashed beans and brown butter (brown butter). Other menu highlights include the signature Holy Pita Pocket – a street staple – served with short ribs or lamb kofta; a hot paprika hummus; and martin sashimi. In the morning you will find Allpress coffee alongside bourekas (filo pastry filled with spinach and cheese, cheese or potato) with boiled egg, grated tomato salsa, tahini and pickles.
Throw in a list of original cocktails prepared by Samuel McWilliams of Lobo, harnessing ingredients like arak, pear, date syrup and halva, and you are a winner. There is the Layla Lavan, with arak, macadamia liqueur, coconut and halva cream and coconut milk; and Port Said – black rum, lemon, plum syrup and pear juice.
As important as food is, it is only one of the things that make Shaffa a great dining destination. The aim here is to present to Sydney a piece of Israel-born Nahum’s Tel Aviv with its intimate hospitality and vibrant, evolving textures and flavors.
Mon 7:30 am-3:30pm
From Tue to Fri, 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday from 5.30 p.m. to 10 p.m.