Calling all labneh, flatbread and falafel lovers: A traditional Lebanese café, Rafael, has taken residence in the space formerly occupied by Firebirds on Main Road in Sea Point. The restaurant, which is named after their son, Rafael, is the brainchild of Mikhael Bou Rjeily (who grew up in Lebanon) and his wife, Angelic, who also run Mischu The Coffee Showroom on Regent Road and Byblos Trading Co. in Woodstock.
The food offering at Rafael includes traditional Lebanese breakfasts and lunches as well as a wide variety of Middle Eastern deli products. The breakfast menu focuses on the traditional man’ouche (flatbread topped with za’atar and baked in the oven) with variations topped with mozzarella, or rolled with homemade labneh and topped with tomato, cucumber and mint. There are also pita breads filled with feta, olives and za’atar. Standard English-style breakfasts and homemade granola will be available for less adventurous palates.
For lunch, expect a small a la carte menu as well as ready-made deli-style dishes. Think tabbouleh salads, beef kafta, chicken tawook (marinated shish kebab), homemade falafel wraps or platters with fresh hummus. Rafael will also have freshly made labneh, babaghanoush, hummus and Lebanese sweets like Turkish delight sold separately as deli takeaways.
As for the drinks, enjoy a selection of fresh juices, frozen mint lemonade, and of course award-winning Mischu Coffee. For something a little different, there is also a selection of unique drinks like Turkish apple tea, Yerba Mate, and traditional Lebanese and Turkish coffees.
“We decided to open a unique, homely and specialised Lebanese café where visitors can enjoy what Lebanon is famous for – our delicious cuisine. Our shop is a comfortable, intimate space and ‘home away from home’; hopefully a place where locals can unwind and relax,” say Mikhael and Angelic. The spot, decorated in white and blue hues, is a stone’s throw away from the promenade.
Rafael is open from Monday to Sunday, for breakfast and lunch, and can be found on the corner of Ellis and Main Road in Sea Point.