It's located just off the Esplanade at Warners Bay, but Sephardim will transport you to the Mediterranean the moment you step in the door. The incredible food and decor of this Mediterranean kitchen is directly inspired by UK owners', Emma and Danny, fond memories of summers in the Mediterranean. They reference Spain, Turkey, Egypt and more in their spice filled menu.
The restaurant opened it's doors just before Christmas in 2015 and has spent considerable time testing, tweaking and innovating their vegan menu into perfection. I was so pleased to be invited for a meal to test out the vegan options along with three other friends! I invited my parents to come along with me, because they deserve all of the treats, and fellow vegan friend and epicurean adventurer, Megan.
The vegan menu is available all nights, without notice, as a banquet for groups of four or more and vegan options are also available as part of their catering service. As a courtesy let staff know you're vegan when booking and expect a wonderful, thoughtful service for your dining experience. Now, let's get on with the food!
To start we had a mix of olives that were gone in a flash. These green olives were flavourful, without being overly briny, with a kick of chilli from the marinade.
This trio of dips was just the thing to whet our appetites. The hay smoked pumpkin hummus was the highlight, light and silky smooth with a pop of freshness from the pomegranate and parsley topping. The baba ganouj was classically smokey and topped with pine nuts and smoked paprika. The third dip was a delicious blend of slowly cooked tomatoes and paprika, Dad wouldn't let the staff take the dish away until it was wiped clean!
Fattoush came next. This dish is often served with a yoghurt or buttermilk dressing, but we loved the light and refreshing fattoush Sephardim style. A mix of colourful tomatoes, crisp greens, peppers, artichoke hearts, green olives and delicious fried bread make this a great dish to order alongside some of the heavier options.
Just about every culture has some form of starchy tuber dish with sauce. When that dish is spiced. crispy fried potato coated in a rich tomato chutney sauce I am totally on board.
My life is a constant search for the perfect felafel. The best to date have been at Orgasmic Felafel in Byron Bay and in a hookah bar somewhere near New Delhi. One is slightly more convenient than the other, but neither is a practical option for laid back dinner plans in Newcastle. Most felafel are too dry, too dense and too salty.
The falafel at Sephardim hit the spot, while they are salty they are balanced really well with the accompanying dips and pickles, and they are just the perfect level of crispy.
This was the dish that blew us away! Florets of cauliflower were lightly coated and deep fried, served with almonds, dukkah, red onion and a rich beetroot puree for sauce.
This dish was salty, fried, slippery, crispy and pure heaven! The texture of the cauliflower was completely unique and melt in your mouth, this is the dish I would come back for time and time again and was the dish I've been raving about ever since visiting Sephardim.
It's hard to tell in a photo how loaded the Ottoman Grill plate really was. A pile of perfectly cooked rice, chickpeas and lentils is topped with the season's best roasted vegetables including silky, slippery eggplant, red roasted capsicums and juicy corn. What really set this dish apart was the combination of lemon and dill and the spicy capsicum condiment. This is the dish that you want to order extra of to keep eating again the next day.
To finish we were so impressed by the fact that chef Danny had endeavoured to veganize their baklava for vegan customers! Tracking down suppliers and tweaking the dish until they had replicated the omni version would have been no mean feat. Crisp pastry and toasty nuts soaked in a divine sugar syrup is the perfect end to a meal at Sephardim for a sweeth tooth, make sure you save a little room.
Our banquet didn't cover all of the vegan options on the Sephardim vegan menu, we'll be back to sample the rest as soon as possible and you should make a booking soon as well.