Roadtest: Be a Breakfast Sheik

With long-time favourite Efendy, in Balmain, winning the best breakfast in the 2014 Good Food Guide, I thought I’d check out a few more places around the Inner West where you can satisfy your morning Middle-Eastern munchies. From labanne to shakshuka, borek and back, you’ll want to chuck out your cereal bowl after visiting this lot.

Yeniköy Café and Restaurant, Newtown

Opening its glass doors onto the hustle and bustle of west King Street, Yeniköy, which literally translates to ‘New Village’ in Turkish, is a veritable cornucopia of rich and flavorful Turkish treats. For a start, their cabinet of baklava, sweet and savoury sigara borek, and a helluva a lot more, will not stop winking at you no matter how full you are. The three-person breakfast spread is packed with an assortment of fruits, cheese, pastries and muhammara – a red capsicum, walnut and olive dip I am yet to try elsewhere.

While ice cream is probably not the healthiest breakfast option, their dondurma (a chewy ice-cream slice made with mastic sap) is definitely a happiness-inducing one.

Shenkin Kitchen, Enmore 

This Israeli-inspired eatery pulls a brunch crowd every day of the week and with a sunlit courtyard it’s a great choice for warmer weekends. Shenkin Kitchen rose to fame introducing the now almost ubiquitous shakshuka to the Inner West. I recommend visiting Shenkin for its more unique breakfast items such as their Angelita Malawach, a Yemenite round of fried puff pastry served with delicious hummus and boiled eggs, while waitress Brianna recommends, “anything with the falafel”. I usually go straight for the Israeli Big Breakfast (pictured), but if I could order a bowl of their labanne just by itself, I would. I think it’s what clouds are made of.

Shisha Bar and Grill, Croydon Park 

This is an intriguing hot spot in the oft-forgotten suburb of Croydon Park. Once a straight-out Middle Eastern family restaurant, Shisha Bar and Grill has transformed into an Americana steakhouse come cocktail bar come casual Mediterranean eatery, and it is certainly working out for them.

The breakfast menu is a fusion of the above but the dishes that hark back to Shisha’s former self definitely shine through. Top picks include the watermelon and fetta salad with za’atar bread, poached eggs with mushrooms, haloumi and quinoa sourdough, and their big breakfast, which involves a devilish combination of sujuk (an aromatic beef sausage) and hashbrowns. Their knafeh, a Lebanese pastry dessert, is also notoriously good.

Le Caféier, Balmain

Run by three Turkish-born coffee aficionados, Le Caféier is the new groovy kid on the Darling Street block. Serving up modern dishes that draw largely from the staff’s heritage you can slurp up a Turkish twist on green eggs and ham – a green shakshuka comprised of caramelized zucchini, gooey poached eggs, hummous and olives. Chow down their ciabatta roll topped with haloumi and boiled eggs, or rifle through their sweets, handmade by head chef Arda and his wife Ahu.

The other day there was a particularly tempting tahini, fig and pomegranate muffin hanging out on their counter, which to my regret I didn’t grab in a passionate embrace and dance down Darling Street with. Alas, you simply
can’t eat them all.

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