You’ll feel immediately welcomed when you enter Saha, Jenanne and Abdoullah Mehio’s cafe now located in the Maylands suburb of Adelaide. “It’s like a second home for us, we practically live here. When people come here, they come to our home,” says Jenanne Mehio.
Despite their background in law and marketing, Jena and Abs, as their customers call them, are not new to hospitality. Before opening Saha at the end of last year, the couple had owned the coffee shop Jam on Fullarton and the restaurant The Little Eastern. Both venues were so successful that they had buyers knocking on the door not long after opening (Jam on Fullerton sold after 2 years and The Little Eastern after 6 months).
With Saha, they’re in it for the long run. “We wanted to open up a place that our entire families could be involved in. We’re all supporting each other and working as a big group,” explains Mehio.
While you’re there, you might bump into Abs’ father, who helped renovate the space or his mother, cooking with head chef Andrew Ivas. Jena’s mother, who runs Samira’s Pantry, worked on the menu and supplies the cafe with falafel, hummus and spinach pies. Her cousin provides the tea and runs pilates classes out the back. Saha is a real family affair.
Coffee, food and family
Jena and Abs’s parents migrated to Adelaide in the 1980s because of the Lebanese civil war. “In Lebanese culture, food is everything. Recipes have been passed on from generations to our mums and [they're] some of the recipes we’re using now,” says Mehio.
Saha’s menu is a mix of both classics and revisited Middle Eastern dishes. The manoushe come with a variety of toppings, like the traditional za'atar labne or lamb, but there’s also a breakfast version with an egg, capsicum salsa, spinach, cheese and sujuk. The kibbeh, which can be served with hummus and pickles or in a salad, is also offered as a vegan version.
“In Lebanese culture, food is everything. Recipes have been passed on from generations to our mums and [they're] some of the recipes we’re using now.”
The scrambled eggs with lamb and the Persian pancakes with fairy floss are among the favourites for brunch. But if you want a bit of everything, you can’t go past the Lebanese breakfast: a beautiful platter with eggs, za’atar, sujuk, labne, olives, tomato, cucumber, pickles and Lebanese bread.
“Every single dish is infused, somehow, with Lebanese flavour,” says Mehio. Case in point, the smashed avo on toast. Far from basic, it’s served with feta, tahini yoghurt, za’atar and pomegranate molasses.
And since Saha means health in Arabic, everything is prepared fresh, and there are plenty of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.
While the crowd is varied at Saha, the cafe has been designed with families in mind. With three young children, the owners meant it when they picked the motto: "Coffee, food, family".
“The entire vision of this came from the fact that we have a young family and that we struggled to go out, eat good food and feel comfortable,” says Mehio.
Saha has play areas outdoors and indoors, a changing table, couches for breastfeeding mothers and loads of space for prams – and of course, a children's menu. And if you’re lucky, the youngest of the Mehio children will be in either mum or dad's arms, greeting you with a big smile.
215 Magill Rd, Maylands, South Australia
Monday - Saturday 7am - 2 pm
Cauliflower is so hot right now. This recipe has you dipping and drizzling it with tarator - it's like the Lebanese version of mayo.
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