Shaffa has opened in Surry Hills, its slightly delayed launch fortuitous given its chef, Artur Bilder, was previously stuck in Israel.
"He got back in time, but we were doing video conferencing on the menu while he was in hotel quarantine," says relieved Shaffa owner Erez Nahum.
Designed by Squillace Architects, Shaffa is housed in the mid-1800s site of the Appletree Hotel, also taking a wedge of outdoor space between it and the neighbouring church.
The menu has a foot in two camps. During the day it leans on lunchtime pita with Tel Aviv-inspired street-food fillings with a twist, while at night it moves up a few notches.
Nahum points to a kingfish dish with "Moroccan" touches of harissa and orange wedges as an instant crowd pleaser.
The restaurateur explains Israeli food has many influences. His father's family is from Iraq and his mother's Romania, while Bilder (a one-time executive chef at the lauded 2C restaurant in Israel) is of Israeli-Russian heritage.
"Shaffa means hottie," says Nahum. And with Mensch Bagels opening last month, up the hill on Crown Street, the timing is hot.
Open Mon 7.30am-3.30pm; Tue-Fri 7.30am-10pm; Sat-Sun 5.30pm-10pm.
80 Albion Street, Surry Hills, shaffa.com.au