Shefco Cedar Bakery
I’ve recently become obsessed with the street ‘cut from a sheet metal plate’. As I’ve discovered, Dominion Road is home to some of Auckland’s best, and most affordable, ethnic restaurants, and then some. The Roskill South end of Dominion hails to the subcontinent whilst its middle is serving up dumplings till the wee small hours. And somewhere in between them, there is Shefco.
Dominion Road has been home to Shefco Cedar Bakery for the better part of two decades, a purveyor of both one the juiciest kebabs in Auckland, and exotic Lebanese deli and wholefoods. Their Lebanese flat bread is baked fresh onsite, supplying most kebab stores in a commercial capacity and many a kitchen (including mine) in a domestic one. And at a mere $1.50 to $2 a bag, the Cheap Eats review could stop there. But we’re more concerned with eating-out rather than eating in for the time being. Meal times at Shefco begin at breakfast, with delicious bready pastries filled with the sharp tang of spinach and sumac or a milder, creamy feta ($2.50 each). If you’re looking for something a little heavier, they also serve a delicious breakfast pizza of lahem bajeen ($2.50), with juicy minced lamb, herbs and spices on a Lebanese base. A Lebanese friend once said that za’atar (a mix of herbs, sumac and sesame seeds staple to Lebanese kitchens) is an acquired taste, but I can’t get enough of their herbaceous and slightly acerbic za’atar pita ($2).
At lunchtime and dinner, the menu expands to encompass kebabs and platters, and special mention must be paid to the family menu. This features up-sized versions of Lebanese staples like the lamb shawarma, and whole rotisserie chickens with sides for a mere $25-$30 for four. The lamb shish kebabs (8 pieces, $30) accompanied by rice, yoghurt salad, large chips, garlic dip and a 1.5L Coke sounded particularly tempting. Lacking the numbers to justify such a large order of food however, I ordered the lamb shawarma ($9) on my first visit, a platter of spit-roasted lamb on salad and yellow rice, heady with the scent of turmeric. The lamb was tender and juicy, with satisfyingly darkened crispy bits, and the garlic toum or dip was a heavenly emulsion for garlic lovers. A cup of hot Turkish apple tea accompanied by a complimentary house-made baklava ($3.50) to follow completed a wonderfully enjoyable and inexpensive meal. On another occasion (the thing about Shefco is once you’ve gone, you have to go back) I thought I’d try their falafel platter ($10), which came with four bronzed chickpea patties flecked with sesame and spices and their fabulous flatbread, which was perfect to mop up the lush mint and cucumber yoghurt salad that anointed the plate.
Whatever the meal or time of day (as long as you get there before 9pm, there are no late night kebabs to be had here) there is something delicious and affordable to be had at Shefco. And if they’ve run out of za’atar pita as they did when I visited, they’ll happily whip up a new batch and pop them in the oven for you.