Paddington hasn't been too kind to newcomers of late, with Hampton's Home on Latrobe Terrace shutting up shop late last year and Jazz Cat, just around the corner in Collingwood Street, following suit shortly after.
Both spaces have new tenants, with Hampton's being reborn as Mis en Place, while Jazz Cat has transformed into Shouk Cafe (marketplace in Hebrew). Guy Frawley and Adi Shabtay who are behind Shouk met in Israel when Frawley was there doing some research. Frawley later returned and stayed for another two years before the pair came back to Australia.
"Israel is an amazing place because of the different cultures and influences due to its immigrant population," Frawley says. "Consequently it has a spectacular food scene."
As the name suggests, there's an Israeli/Middle Eastern flavour to the menu. Frawley says they are "quietly hopeful" that their style of food will appeal to Paddington palates. Bacon and egg-jaded diners are likely to be excited by the exotic breakfast dishes on offer, such as goat's milk and date panna cotta served with kafaiti pastry nests and poached fruit; pear fritters in rose syrup with a pistachio crumble and hung yoghurt; as well as shakshuka (Tunisian baked eggs served in a spicy tomato and capsicum sauce) served with toasted challah bread, olives and feta.
The lunch menu includes seared scallops with almond crumbs, hummus and a lemony cucumber salad; and a range of sandwiches such as an Iraqi sabih sandwich with grilled eggplant, chopped hard boiled egg, chilli salsa, pickles, tahini and Israeli salad on Iraqi laffa flatbread. There's also slow-cooked lamb shawarma on flat bread with pickles and tahini yoghurt sauce.
At the moment Shouk is open for breakfast and lunch. They've applied for a liquor licence, and if you fancy a glass of wine with your shwarma there's a BYO charge of $2 per person.
Details: Shouk Cafe, 14 Collingwood Street, Paddington, 07 3172 1655, open 7 days, 7.30am-3pm, shoukcafe.com.au