A Lebanese deli, named after a loving grandmother and devoted to handcrafted deliciousness, has opened in Potts Point – a few doors down from Piccolo Bar and opposite Lady Chu.
“I’ve always loved slow cooking. I grew up with my mother who ran cafes, in Newtown and here in Potts Point,” says Teta’s Deli owner Dina El-Kaddoumi. pamphlet.
On the shelves are jars of hand-pickled Jerusalem artichokes and wild baby cucumbers from an aunt’s garden, as well as turnips, olives and baby eggplant. El-Kaddoumi describes the latter, which is stuffed with walnut, chilli, parsley and garlic and dipped in olive oil, as “probably the tastiest ever” – especially when served with fresh bread. Meanwhile, in the fridge you’ll find homemade hummus and labneh, and black olives, salted and marinated in sumac or chili.
There is also a selection of products from Lebanon – from olive oil soap to carob molasses and halva. It’s hard not to be tempted by the black cumin seed oil that promises to cure “all diseases except death.”
If you’re not in a rush, take a seat on the sofa by the window and order a “pliage,” El-Kaddoumi’s version of the manoush. It’s made with dough delivered every morning to her uncle’s bakery in Mount Druitt, and there are two options for fillings. For meat eaters, there’s the lahm bi ajeen (minced lamb with tomatoes, onion and herbs) and for vegetarians, the za’atar (a mix of toasted sesame seeds and various herbs and spices, including sumac, oregano and thyme). Both are topped with salad and, if you fancy, El-Kaddoumi’s house-made chili sauce. A recommended accompaniment is jallab, a traditional Lebanese drink made with pomegranate, rose water, pine nuts, and ice.
Also keep an eye out for El-Kaddoumi’s weekly “surprises”. One week you might find warak enab (stuffed vine leaves) and another, green hummus made with fresh parsley, coriander, olive oil and nigella seeds.
Teta’s has a real homely feel to it, much like cafes in villages in the Middle East and Europe. El-Kaddoumi transformed the small space with the help of builders and architects in her family. Think hand-hewn wooden planks, blue and white tiles, handwritten signs and eclectic ornaments. The floor-to-ceiling windows offer great views of the street, and El-Kaddoumi has plans to add outdoor seating soon, as well as Lebanese coffee.
“Things are going well so far,” says El-Kaddoumi. “I have repeat customers, so I’m happy about that… The point is, it’s not just about food, it’s about sharing the way I’ve learned about my own culture, which is also about community, family and intimate spaces that feel just like home.”