There are a number of middle-eastern style bakery/cafes on Sydney Road but the still fairly new Zaatar stands out from the pack with it’s much more modern layout.
Big glass windows, communal table, funky wall decorations, it’s definitely different in style but based on the level and variety of the crowds appears to have quickly been adopted by hungry locals. What really stood out when lining up to order though was just how comparatively professional and organised it seemed and how cheap everything is. I mean, the bakeries along Sydney Road are cheap but for some items Zaatar seems to be around 10% cheaper than most of the others. And my experience is that service at most of the bakeries is friendly but here it is just that little bit more polished.
There is one dish I always order without fail when visiting Sydney Road and that is a cheese pie. The cheese used is normally haloumi, a soft, slightly salty cheese that sometimes feels a little ‘squeaky’ when you bite into it. Because it can take a bit of heat without melting everywhere it’s often grilled and served either in salad or with a slice of lemon. It’s one of my true tests for a bakery and unfortunately this was a little disappointing for two reasons. Firstly, the casing seemed a little heavier and flavourless compared to some of the other nearby offerings. More importantly though, it hadn’t been sufficiently heated so that the pastry was barely warm and the cheese filling still cold.
Alternatively you can choose from amongst the meat based pizzas. One I hadn’t seen before was the Aleppo pizza, minced lamb, onion and tomato with pomegranate molasses. The lamb flavour is delicate and complemented by the sweetness of the molasses.
Final dish was the soujuk pizza, a Turkish style sausage which comes with tomato and capsicum. On occasions the wetness of the tomato and capsicum can result in the crust going a little soggy but this was perfectly crispy. Given it’s only four dollars an absolute steal.
It’s new, it’s good, it’s cheap, and if you eat at these sort of places all the time and want somewhere a little more upmarket then it’s a fine choice to eat. Alternatively if you want to try the little middle-eastern pizzas for the first time and want somewhere comfortable and fairly familiar in style then it’s a fine choice for that too.
Food – 7.5
Service – 7
Price – 8
365 Sydney Road