The Vujic family first opened the doors to 23 Peel Street intent on bringing traditional Serbian fare to the heart of Adelaide with Kaffana. Now, half a decade later, Kaffana resides just one block east on Gilbert Place, priming the Peel Street spot for its next iteration, Sestra.
Opening tomorrow, Sestra strives to break the mould of its sibling venues. While the name (which translates to ‘sister’) pays homage to its heritage, the restaurant presents a fresh beginning for the site.
“We hope Sestra contributes positively to the ever-growing social and culinary hub that is Peel Street,” explains owner, Predrag Vujic. “We know it will add a taste of the Mediterranean and hope it will offer our customers an opportunity to share our culture.”
Where Kaffana maintains a proclivity for traditional plates, Sestra casts the net further afield to encompass the cuisines that inform Serbian fare. “Our ethos stems from a reflection on Serbian cuisine, noting the influence and shared language, culture and food between other European nations,” explains Predrag.
The resulting menu channels Moroccan, Turkish, Greek, Italian and Spanish influences in a tight A4 menu that’s neatly divided by Little Sister (small plates) and Big Sister (large plates).
Sestra takes a step back from its forerunner’s strong familial influence with a new face, Anouar Senah, heading the kitchen. Nonetheless, hints of the Vujic family recipes remain, in addition to Anouar’s traditional Moroccocan influence.
For the Vujic family, quality ingredients are paramount. The restaurant prides itself on respecting the natural properties of its produce through traditional cooking methods. “There’s a lot of pretentiousness in food and what we want to do is bring it back to its basics,” Predrag says.
Everything is sourced locally. “We use the butcher that we used when we had our first restaurant [Zorros] because we know the quality is there and we know it’s local,” he continues. Seafood, fruit and veg are also strictly South Australian thanks to a line-up of local suppliers ranging from Barossa Fine Foods to mama’s backyard.
“Part of this is making sure there is an ethical approach to the food that is grown for us,” he continues. “We don’t do mass produced and we try not to get anything that’s been sprayed, that’s the honesty of the food.”
In the kitchen, a charcoal grill amplifies these flavours. Anouar will be the first to admit it takes significant effort to get the grill going but assures us the pay-off of real charcoal is well worth the additional prep time.
“The flavour you can get from different types of charcoals gives you a different balance in your food,” Predrag says. “We’re here to preserve the flavour of the food that we’re cooking.”
While the restaurant ventures to incorporate influences from across Europe, hints of Serbian culture remain pertinent by nature. Namely, a menu designed for sharing. As the Spring weather rears its head, Sestra prompts diners to spill out onto the Peel Street precinct to break bread with family and friends.
“I think it’s a better way to eat,” says Predrag. “That’s part of the Serbian influence and the way we do things, we still get together as a family and we do a big feast – we share.”
Case in point, the Pinchitos. A trio of lamb, beef and chicken skewers prepared over the grill with minimal interference. Order a single serve or go big with portions, available for duos and trios alike.
A must try is the Saffron Chicken, slow cooked in a tagine with olives and the preserved lemons that line Sestra’s front window. Order a side of garlic pita or dukkah bread to lap up every last drop of sauce.
Sestra opens tomorrow, Friday 02 November from 12pm.
WHERE? 23 Peel Street, Adelaide
WHEN? Tuesday – Friday: 12.00 – 15.00 & 18.00 – 21.00 (Bar: 12.00 – late) / Saturday: 18.00 – 21.00 (Bar: 18.00 – late)
COME HERE FOR: A culmination of fresh Mediterranean fare in the heart of the CBD.
EXPECT TO SPEND: $$
OF NOTE: Weekly specials coming soon.
Photography by Ben Neale.