Sababa Adds Bar and Lounge Area
New evening menu features tasty small plates
Ed Wahhab, a successful graduate of the Milwaukee School of
Engineering, ultimately found the restaurant business preferable to nuclear
engineering. In 2007, he opened Sababa, a casual café that mainly catered to
tenants in its Plaza East location. Recently, Wahhab used his skills and
experience to expand his business from breakfast and lunch to small plates in
Sababa still serves affordable breakfast and lunch, with a counter for food orders and a separate bar for coffee. The lunch menu offers sandwiches, wraps, subs and mini pizzas.
In July, however, Sababa added a full bar and lounge area with its own menu. This menu, which is very different from the café menu, reflects Wahhab’s Jordanian heritage. It is entirely composed of mezza, which is Arabic for small plates.
The mezza options, composed mostly of vegetarian items, tend to be on the light side. A plate of assorted Mediterranean olives ($5) is a natural starter. It’s also a proper side for Sababa’s cardamom Manhattan, which is a very stiff drink.
Most items are of the “finger food” variety. Try the zait-zattar flat bread ($5). The bread is seasoned with dried spices and topped with fresh chopped tomato and red onions. It is light in spirit. Kifta sliders ($7) break from Middle Eastern tradition. The meat, aromatically spiced minced beef sirloin, is topped with a lemon tahini sauce. The sliders are so tasty you may want a second order.
Vegetarians will enjoy the hummus and vegetable plate ($7). The chickpea puree has a few whole chickpeas thrown in and a little pool of extra virgin olive oil. The hummus is served with carrot and cucumber sticks as well as pita chips.
The shawarma wrap is also a hit. The meat, your choice of chicken breast ($7) or beef tenderloin ($8), has a spicy marinade and is served with chopped tomato and onion. The sauce is a choice of roasted garlic or tahini.
Other options include falafel, meat and vegetarian kibbeh, baba ganoush, a fattoush salad, and Sababa’s take on nachos.
The décor is luxuriant. The overall design fits well in Helmut Jahn’s Plaza East building. With floor-to-ceiling windows in orange trim, this is more like a Milwaukee Street lounge than a snack bar.
The family members who run the place are friendly and attentive, and the seating is comfortable. Sababa adds some welcome evening activity to an office building that normally goes dark by 5 p.m.
391 E. State St.
Riverwest Welcomes Scardina Specialties
Peter and Maria Scardina recently opened Scardina Specialties (822 E. Chambers St.), a small deli in Riverwest. It is located in the building that was the original home of the Lakefront Brewery. Display cases are filled with a selection of homemade sausages and spiedini made with a variety of meats and ready to cook. Scardina Specialties also prepares sandwiches to go. There are about 10 to choose from, split between wraps and grilled panini. All of them are affordable.