Friday, October 22, 2010

Waltz With Bechara (aka Sabbaba, Newtown)...

Waltz With Bashir told the tale, in an animation hauntingly human, of war's toll on memory. Strange and recurrent dreaming distorts a man's time as it burdens his heart. His eyes become heavy with a past forgotten. He recedes into things unknown. And it is through his nighttime imagining, silent and sensuous, full and terrible, that he finally comes to remember. 
But hey! Not all things between the Lebanese and Israeli's traumatize memory or mind. In fact, some experiences are so indelible to hippocampus (the part of your brain that stores memory, dummies) that some Lebanese folks have them joyfully branded therein forever. Foodies of the World Unite, You Have Nothing To Lose But Your Waist Bands. 

Yes! You are hearing it from one very happy girl who no longer has to haul her tuches all the way into Bondi Junction for some serious pita-ing, and if that aint kosher, then I don't know what is! Make no mistake about it Cake + Knifelings, SweetSweetSaucy Sabbaba, has just opened up delectable and dazzling little shop in Newtown, King St. And right next door to Max Brennar. This is obviously some kind of message from God to my adipose tissue: go forth and multiply! God definitely must speak Hebrew because Sabbaba is simply, wonderfully, fundamentally and literally: all good. 

Pita Perfection goes a little summin like this, and believe me when I say, you'll be Yiddy With Delight. This is definitely not an experience you should Passover...
But first, a word of caution: Look at that mug, will you? That belongs to the human genetic comedy we all know and love Jamie. And that's the lovely Janine. Now, Jamie's not just appearing because he's a charming and handsome specimen of manliness, no Sir-ee, and he's not in here because he loves Point Break, either. That would be...a waste of time. Jamie is your demonstration, people. He is like the little dude on the safety card on board a plane who tells you how the hell to escape the emergency and get out of it with your life - the emergency of utter tahini-licked, sauce dripping, falafel crunching deliciousness you are about to crash right into. So, for Godsake, don't make me say it again, Sit up, fasten your seat belts, pay attention! 

Around the region known as Jamie's face (and his jowls, in particular) you can see the proper representation of what an AFTER SHOT of a Sabbaba pita looks like. Notice the little flecks of chilli and tahini on either side. This is correct. Jamie has possibly scored extra points for having little crumbs of perfectly baked pita floating amongst what (I think) is passing for some stubble. This is how it ought to be done. If you're not wearing it, then you're just not caring for it. Not the way you should be. 

Decorum aside, Fine-Tea-Bone-China-Oh-Indeed-English-Upper-Crust-Yourself-Off, it's time to get down and dirty. Jump right in. That's what napkins are for. Don't bring first dates here or people that don't already love you. This isn't slim, shy sandwiching, it's JawKong, it's an edible flipped-bird towards tastelessness, it's the promised land on a plate and all sauced up - and (thank God) it's in your face...
Oh My Lord. Would you look at that. Or if you're from NZ, would you look at the-aaaat? Forget pictures of pickled newborns who look like they're planning your imminent murder through their beady/creepy homicidal peep holes, this is the kind of image we need to be carrying around inside our wallets, people! This is exactly the sort of shit people need to be seeing. Hey, I had this pita the other day, isn't it so cute...yes, Danny and I are very proud, we weren't expecting him to be so big... Man. It's like a little reverse black hole of cosmic energy dwells deliciously inside the minced-chillied-salady heart of this wonderful wholemeal pita. Instead of sucking energy in, out it heaves. Alive and spiced and olive oiled! Bejeweled globs of tahinied pickle and tart red strands of sour, celestial cabbage, beautiful salad and just about the most sublime falafel this side of the wailing wall. 
This is a token shot of some chicken schitnzel with all the Middle Eastern Sauce sisters, some crazy fresh red chilli sauce and bounds of pickles and salad. Creamy, thick Omega3RichRichRich Like Saudi Princes-sauces rollicking alongside fresh, tart parsley and cabbage is a combination that's all full bodied chutzpah. It's delicious. It's moorish. It's saucy and crunchy and fresh. It's wonderful. And so (Fran) Fine. Mix and Dip and Bite and Lick and Layer and Smooth. If it's a small bite you're after, stay away from Sabbaba. No bupkes happening here, massive, solid serves to leave you full for hours are the main constant on a menu that weaves its way, like a long lost lyre note, through the full spectrum of Israeli Culinary Glory: VeryVegan in rich pureed eggplant with masses of chickpea, chilli, and all the way through to a no nonsense Carnivore Carnival of beautiful shawarma, perfectly grilled meats and fish. There's simply something for every kind of appetite. And if you survive a Sabbaba main, perhaps with some serendipitous sides, not only are some wonderful traditional and not so traditional sticky desserts waiting quietly and patiently for you, in their own languid and gentle sweetness, but some of the best coffee going around is there to smack you back into your stupefied senses. 

But let's not get ahead of ourselves like some silly schmucks, let's take it slow and break it down. Let's take a good hard look at what makes Hela smile, just like this.
The classic Sabbaba pita is a good First Timer choice (like the boy next door). In one week, I went there 5 consecutive days (the boy next door analogy ends here) and availed my taste buds of the same suburban glory: a wholemeal Sabbaba with extra green minced chilli and pickle. Perfect pickle, not in the least bit fickle. Not a trickle of pickle, but enough to make you sickle. The best bloody pickle i've ever been in. This is decent bloody nosh. The anatomy is perfect: the most gorgeously crisp shelled falafel that once bitten into reveals a steamy coriandered soft chickpea heart, brilliantly spiced and deep, buried within lashings of gorgeously oiled hommous and baba ganoush and chilli - thick and creamy and all mooshed in with beautifully clean salad fantasia as filling. 
It's voluptuous, bountiful, burgeoning. Wonderfully too big for your mouth, you have to angle it around sauce dripped corners of cavernous pita and just try to contend with its magnitude, saucy section by section. The texture is more balanced than a Zen monk, but slightly more orgasmic. Dry pita, wet, fresh salad, crispy falafel and smooth, woozy creamy sauce spiraling into flamboyant chilli. It's as velvetly and moorish as a cheeseburger but so much more delicious and better for you. I've often thought baba ganoush and hommous are the Middle Eastern answers to dairy, if you use them where you'd ordinarily use cheese or cream you get the same comforting richness to your food but without any adverse ass effects. This is great news for vegans, who can sometimes be a bit of a joyless lot. But, anyway... 
Fancy a side of fine chips? Who are you kidding. Chips should come with everything, they're just necessary. Gelato shops should serve them. They should be on breakfast menus - at sushi restaurants. Who doesn't like a good chip? Beside maybe an Old Block. But good chips arent all that's going down in Sabbaba Pita Sidekicks...
Add to the glory of the above about 4 bucks extra and you can get your John and Paul with some George and Ringo. Wonderfully tapas-ish sides circumvent that most awful of menu situations: having to choose between what you want. Choice. Leave it to home loans and sexuality, people. Don't choose when it comes to food, not ever, have it all, even if only a little bit of it all. Have a pita with some corn chips or guacamole, or some fries or vine leaves or some salad and dessert.
They've thought of everything. And in funky packaging with kaleidoscopically graffitied walls! Jesus, Sabbaba, so saucy and so damn savvy. It's the brainchild of two good friends who started with a restaurant in Bondi. The concept has been reproduced at Bondi Junction and now Newtown, with a focus on snappy, sharp, healthy takeaway that caters for a new kind of hungry bastard. You should be able to eat takeaway and still eat healthfully and wonderfully, Sabbaba is filling in - with falafel and craploads of salad - this cleaving gap in the fast food market. The Newtown crowd is already lining up - and it's a great mix of old people, young punks, nurses heading down from the RPA, funky uni students, polished princesses and moneyed yummy mummies. The taste is so appealing and so versatile.
This is also one of the most open and beautiful spaces to eat in, especially in Newtown. The look is almost punk basement meets Hamptons beach house. Muted blues, whitewashed tables and ivory tiles give it that little element of Mrs Brady - while the graffiti walls and overall spunk of the atmosphere is more like Mrs Brady on speed with a nose ring and a bad attitude, cheating on Mr Brady with Alice while she moshes to the Dwarves. 
It's fun, it's funky, and it's clean. It's busy and vibrant and bustling. It's spicy and colourful. Crowded and delicious. It gives you such a great sense of atmosphere for an In/Out experience. 
Think of it just like a cafe, even if you don't get a meal, come with the paper, grab a killer latte and something sweet. I like their coffee much more than campos, and what's more, it comes with much less SeriousArtsyWankerBarrista demeanour (someone seriously get them a tan and a ticket to the circus) AND a free square of cadbury chocolate on top. Energetic and Inspired co-owner Nick told me the free square of chocolate idea started off from everyone wanting one because he always had his coffee that way. It doesn't matter why there's free chocolate, there just is and that's a very beautiful thing!
Rollicking of atmosphere, rabid of appetite and relishable of flavour. Hell Yeah. Sabbaba has arrived. Make sure when you go you ask for a side of the fresh minced green chili, that's it below. It is the most thick, luscious and verdant mouth fire you'll ever be likely to set. It is gorgeous on everything. Pita, meat, corn chips, fries. Get it, spoon it, love it...Got it?  
Send yourself into a final food coma with any of the moorish baklava - pistachioed and rose watered and nuttied in the most honeyed of hues - or turkish delight, or honeycomb cookies, or brownies, or banana bread, or any of their other divine, dirty, secret chocolately somethings. You'll be collapsing onto your plastic covered couches when you get home afterwards. Such an agonizing array of every flavour you could ever desire.
You'd think being such food smart and business savvy people they'd know it all, but i'm afraid they don't. Come on Nick, what's with the pronunciation of falafel? It aint fuh-lah-ful, not by long a shot. I don't want to push any Arab/Israeli tension, here, but I have to - in extreme bias - insist on the correct pronunciation (even with Danny and Eb laughing at me and calling me a bloody wog for it) the proper way to say falafel...all together now, is: fah-laaaair-full. Sealed in with a garlic burp, Mate. 

That's how you do it, and I can't have it any other way.
Get your hungry little butts down to Newtown Sabbaba asap. Oy! Breakfast is happening, beer is happening, amazing coffee is happening, happiness is happening, and so is Bonsoy (you bloody beauties).
It's basically the best thrill you can have for under $9 bucks (and that's including more spurious establishments around Central Station). It's a fun place to bring a crowd, nice and loud and anything goes, but big enough that you can find a private, quiet corner in which to look deep, deep down into the crevice in your pita... before simply dropping your whole, entire face right into the saucy, salady middle of it.
Sabbaba, we love you. You keep spreading that tahini, and i'll keep spreading the word. 

Thanks to Nick and your other lovely partner whose name I forgot (!!) so good to have met you and have tried some real deal haloumi. If we're going to be friends though, hold back on the free dessert, I already have trouble with limits!

Special thanks to C + K SuperDooperModels: Jamie of the sticky face Utah, get me two! Two! You're saying the FBI's going to pay me to learn to surf? Back off, Warchild. Seriously. To Janine, for the WalkThatWasMoreTalk and Blind Yoga w Almond Croissants before hand. To Hela of the sweet, Polish smile and kindly real property tuition. And to DCG, who is like the Sandwich Effect as boyfriend.

If you don't manage to get you and your mouth into Sabbaba asap - you run the risk of dying without knowing what it's like. A sad, pitiable pita-less death! If that unfortunate event ever happens, i'll be front row center at your funeral, shaking my sorry head and saying...oy vey! 

Sabbabaliciousness: even if you have to wander through the desert for 40 years, make it happen. And when you do, you'll be seeing stars - of David!


Miss Piggy said...

I went here are few weeks ago and it was gooooooddddd! And big! And Yum.

Unknown said...

Been there on last Sunday it was awesome!!!! Good to have such a great food here in Newtown!

amanda said...

good stuff. what do you guys get when you go? still haven't tried the algerian which is my friend penny's favourite, i can't stop ordering the sabbaba!

Greg Plummer said...

Really good stuff here nice