Safar by Bekya Middle Eastern, Tramsheds, 1 Dalgal Way, Forest Lodge
Just as the sun was setting on a beautiful spring day in Sydney. Cyclists commuted home along the nearby cycleway while the large grassed area next door hummed with conversation and the odd bark as people walked their dogs and soaked up the cool vibes of this reinvigorated inner-city area.
We chose here because: After standing empty and abandoned for decades the old (built in 1904) Rozelle tram depot has been converted into a vibrant centre of food, drink and all things good. Picture historical museum meets steampunk, with a twist of modern minimalist design and you will be getting close to the reality of Tramsheds. There are 11 restaurants, bars and food stores within and we chose Safar by Bekya Middle Eastern because we thought the flavour-packed sharing plates would be perfect for our group.
Our first impression was:
a feeling of wonder upon entering Tramsheds. The vaulted ceiling creates such a sense of space you feel tiny as you stand beneath it. Being a large space, we wondered how we were going to find Safar but as we made our way through the entrance, we spotted it directly to our right and felt a victorious little thrill. Some of our party had already arrived and were being well looked after by Caesar, our waiter, who ensured we had glasses of water and wine poured before we even sat down.
We started with: lengthy deliberation. Safar offers a very appealing banquet option, but we were a rather opinionated group so decided to get a range of sides and mains to share instead. Caesar proved vital to the decision-making process, pointing us to some excellent options and ensuring we didn't over- or under-order. To start we chose the flatbread and trio of dips. The bread, which came out warm, was so delightful we ended up ordering a second serving.
The highlight of the night was:
the fattoush salad. It was incredible and a great recommendation from Caesar, who also talked us into the divine slow-cooked beef cheek. I had the brilliant idea to add beef and fattoush to my flatbread and roll it up. And boy howdy, we were in flavour country.
Come here if: you love good food and great service in a funky venue popular with in-the-know Sydneysiders and far from the usual tourist traps. Safar is special enough for an occasion meal, like a birthday (it was mine ,by the way!) but relaxed enough that you could pop in at the last minute because you didn't feel like cooking.
The bill: was a mystery to me because my friends shouted me for my birthday. But my rough calculations put it at well under A$100 per person and that included food, wine, even a cocktail or two. It's rare to go out for dinner in Sydney without putting a hefty dent in your wallet, so Safar surpassed expectations in terms of value for money and almost every other way that counts.