Sumac Cafe, Goodwood Road


date of visit: Saturday 1 August 2015

A couple of months back we were driving down Goodwood Road for some reason and spotted Sumac Cafe. After dark it’s a bit hard to miss – the windows are rather boldly edged with brightly coloured fairy lights making it seem, at first glance, rather less like a cafe.

As we’re both big fans of middle eastern food it went on the ‘to-do’ list and we almost made it there a month or so ago but some really feral weather put us off driving ‘too far’. Last weekend, there was no excuse.

We’d done our research and knew that Sumac was open all day, so our need to eat early wouldn’t be a problem. Even so, when we we arrived there were still quite a few tables occupied.

While the cafe feels quite large and spacious there’s not actually that many tables so if you were wanting to eat at a more sensible time than 5:30pm I’d recommend booking.

Everything is very casual – the menus are laminated and you order and pay at the counter and receive a table number. There’s a fridge for drinks and a water fountain. The cafe is unlicensed so don’t head along expecting a beer!

The menu is not excessively long and most of the options are based around platters, so this is an ideal venue if you like sharing your food. For any conservative eaters, there are burgers, and there are also middle eastern style pizzas, flavoured with things like za’atar. There are a few pictures on the menu so Master 4 decided he wanted the felafel plate ($9.90 for 6 felafel, pickles and tahini) while we chose the kebab/shaslik platter – $21.90 for one each of chicken, lamb and kofta kebabs, served with rice, salad (choice of fattoush or tabouleh), pickles, babaghanoush, hummous and toum. Of course, you also get pita bread on the side.


The food came out reasonably quickly – the grill is open to the restaurant so you get an excellent idea of what’s currently being cooked and how far off your food is. Obviously, it was not quickly enough for Master 4 (any tips on how to stop your four year old bellowing “Where’s my food?” greatly appreciated!) but when it arrived it was all hot, fresh and delicious.

For me, the revelation of the meal was the toum. Perfectly white, slightly lumpy in appearance, this is one ferociously garlicky sauce. To say it is like aioli is not really fair because aioli has eggs in it and toum is all about the garlic. It is basically garlic and oil. I don’t know whether toum is a peculiarly Lebanese thing or not – I’ve never knowingly had it in other middle eastern countries (and I’ve never been to Lebanon) but certainly, if you believe the internet, the Lebanese lay claim to it. Now I’ve discovered it, I don’t really care. After scoffing an unfair proportion of that served to us (unfair in both that I deprived Andy of a 50% portion and then breathed all over him!), I announced that it would be perfect on a big slice of bread or toast. It really is that good!

There were other things on the plate – the kebabs were all delicious, the fattoush was good (lots of crispy bread on top – yum!) and I also liked the lightly spiced rice and the hummous. Babaghanoush I never like (I did try it, I promise!).

The pickles were also tasty – pickled chillis that weren’t too hot, olives and some alarmingly bright pink pickle which I have since discovered is turnip and beetroot. It was really crunchy with a relatively neutral savoury pickle flavour. At the time, we couldn’t pick what it was.

We probably didn’t order quite enough food because of course we had to share our kebabs and rice (in particular) with Master Four who only reluctantly let us try his felafel (and only once he had established he was completely full). There was a family platter on offer and I think that might have been a better choice – something we can try out next time we head there!

Because I love middle eastern desserts and pastries we decided to investigate dessert – something of a rarity for us. I was really disappointed that the only desserts (or sweet things) on offer were all decidedly western European. Custard tart, cannoli, muffin? I asked about baklava and was told that they had sold out. I think that’s a bit of stock control that needs redressing – if you’re out of baklava at 6:30pm on a Saturday night the chances are there will be a few unhappy customers later in the evening.

One thing to be aware of – the cafe is also home to three massive TV screens. I don’t know why people do it. There was no sound, but TV screens are these horrible, horrible things that magically suck everyone into gawping at them and they have no place in a cafe or restaurant.

TV screes and fairy lights aside – we’ll definitely be heading back to Sumac and we left feeling it was quite a shame we didn’t live in the area so we could also make use of the takeaway side of the business!

Sumac Cafe
576-590 Goodwood Road
Colonel Light Gardens SA 5041
phone: 08 8177 1458

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Warm Middle Eastern Salad with Wallaby


Disclaimer: Lenah Game sent me a voucher for the wallaby.

A while back I won The Blue Ducks, a book unpromisingly subtitled “Delicious Food, the Importance of Community and the Joy of Surfing”. Well, delicious food and community I can get on board with … but surfing … meh, I wasn’t so sure.

I read through it with very low expectations but came away very impressed and keen to try out, at the very least, the fennel ice cream (that still hasn’t happened). And then, the book was buried under all manner of picture books and Octonauts paraphernalia.

But the planets aligned, as last week Lenah Game got in touch and asked if I wanted to try some Tasmanian wallaby, newly available in South Australia. It had never occurred to me that wallaby would be edible and that I might be able to buy it but, given the opportunity to put a new meat on my plate, I was all for it.

Lenah wallaby is wild and humanely and sustainably harvested. Unlike sheep and cows, it’s a lot kinder to the Australian environment and Lenah Game makes sure that as much of the animal as possible is used. Wallabies don’t produce methane and require a LOT less water than cows and sheep do. Not only is the wallaby a very environmentally friendly thing to eat it is also super healthy. Like many game and wild meats, it’s very low in fat so you can feel virtuous all round.

So we were sitting on the sofa, doing our meal planning, scratching our heads over one meal when I dug out The Three Ducks and spotted a middle eastern lamb salad. It used lamb fillet and I remembered that Lenah produced wallaby fillet and … the rest is history.

The bonus here is that wallaby fillet (at roughly $30 a kilo) is markedly cheaper than lamb fillet. We bought two packets of fillet (both around 350-400g) and this served us for dinner, Andy for lunch and the toddler for dinner the next day. For two people and one meal you could easily get away with one packet.

Don’t over cook the wallaby – medium rare is about as cooked as you want to go – and allow it to rest. Lenah also notes that you need to cut the fillets diagonally across the grain. As the meat is vacuum packed, it will repay you opening it and ‘decanting’ it into a bowl for a bit of a rest prior to cooking.

We both loved the meat – it’s not gamey at all and don’t imagine it’s like kangaroo – it’s a lot more subtle. We’ll definitely be buying more in future … I can’t wait for some cold weather to try out the shanks.

Lenah Game wallaby is available from Foodland IGA supermarkets at Golden Grove, Hallett Cove, Littlehampton and Seaford and should be available in even more stores soon.

Warm Middle Eastern Salad with Wallaby


  • 350g approx wallaby fillet
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 zucchini
  • ½ red onion, finely sliced
  • ½ cup coriander, chopped
  • ½ cup mint, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, halved.
  • 2 tsp sumac
  • plain yoghurt


  1. Heat a griddle pan and put the oven on its warm setting.
  2. Slice the zucchini lengthwise. If you have a mandoline, use this on the second thickest setting.
  3. Grill the zucchini and place in a bowl in the oven.
  4. Season the wallaby fillet with the cumin, salt and pepper. Griddle in a very hot pan in small batches. You'll only need a couple of minutes each side. Place the wallaby on a plate and rest in the oven.
  5. Grill the tomato.
  6. Mix the onion, coriander, mint and zucchini. Top with the tomatoes and the wallaby, sliced diagonally.
  7. Finish with a spoonful or two of yoghurt and dust with sumac. You can either toss the salad in the bowl or spoon it into a flat bread to make a very Australian kebab.