Restaurant News

Ester’s head chef is opening a shawarma and falafel takeaway joint

Mat Lindsay is going in with the owners of Paramount Coffee Project, and they’ll be serving the Middle Eastern snacks from morning till night. Your late-night kebab just got a whole lot better.

By Yvonne C Lam
Chef Mat Lindsay
Ester chef-owner Mat Lindsay and the team behind Paramount Coffee Project are opening an all-day takeaway joint serving shawarma and falafel in Sydney's Surry Hills.
Shwarmama – a joint project by Lindsay and Paramount's co-owners Russell Beard, Mark Dundon and Jin Ng – will serve a short, sharp menu of spiced lamb shawarma wrapped in flatbread, fried-to-order falafel in fresh pita, sabich, the breakfast-style kebab of Iraqi-Jewish-Israeli origins stuffed with fried eggplant and boiled eggs, and a "not Halal snack pack".
"Mat half-jokingly mentioned the shawarma concept when the space was offered to us," says Beard (at the time, the kitchen at Ester – ranked 18th in GT's 2019 Restaurant Guide – was going through a phase of making shawarma-style dishes for their Sunday lunches). "But if Mat's cooking shawarma, that's something I want to get behind."
The minimalist space will be designed by Anthony Gill, who also designed the interiors for Ester and Lindsay's Surry Hills wine bar Poly. Customers order and pick up their food from the counter; some might pull up one of the 10 seats in the modest restaurant, while others will takeaway. "We're not trying to reinvent the wheel. You'll hang out, have a drink, eat and leave. It's a small space, but it lends itself to the concept," says Beard.
When it opens, Shwarmama will be open from breakfast until late(ish) in the night. By day, you might order coffee by Reuben Hills (also owned by Beard) or Melbourne roasters Seven Seeds to go with your sabich; by night, a glass of red with your shawarma wrap.
As for the name? It may be hard to get your mouth around, but it captures Lindsay's maternal instincts perfectly. "We threw around ideas like 'Come to mamma' and 'You got it from mamma'," says Beard. "But in the end, we went with one that was a riff on shawarma."
Shwarmama is set to open in early September at Shop 2, 106-112 Commonwealth St, Surry Hills, NSW.