In South County, a new sweets shop offers a variety of desserts and beverages. Sedara Sweets, which gets its name from a traditional style of hat worn by Iraqi men, debuted on May 18 in Affton featuring baklava, baked goods, Cedar Crest ice cream, coffee and more. The concept comes from husband-and-wife duo George and Esraa Simon.
“I’m Lebanese-American, and my wife is from Baghdad, Iraq,” George says. “We’re hoping to bring a little taste of back home here to St. Louis, and we’re mixing some Eastern and Western tastes, trying to offer things for a variety of palates. You can try something more exotic or just get some classic hand-dipped ice cream.”
According to George, who is an Arabic teacher at St. Louis University High School as well as an Arabic interpreter, Esraa came to St. Louis as a war refugee in 2015. Since moving to the states, she grew to miss the traditional tea times accompanied by sweets she became accustomed to in her native land.
“When we first met, we’d spend a lot of time chatting with each other in coffee shops, but there weren’t any Arabic coffee shops around. Here, I can sit and have tea, and my daughter can enjoy some ice cream,” Esraa says. “My idea is that people aren’t just grabbing their coffee and walking away. I love that they can sit, relax and chat.”
Sedara Sweets fills a strip-mall storefront, with around 40 seats. The completely renovated room took around a year-and-a-half to build out and features a simplistic, cozy ambiance with Middle Eastern inflections such as a stylized logo on the wall. Guests can grab their food and drink at a casual walk-up counter.
“We have hand-dipped ice cream, fresh made pastries, croissants, danishes, muffins, as well as brownies, cookies, hot drip coffee, espresso, mixed coffee drinks, fruit smoothies, breakfast sandwiches, 15 different types of baklava, savory breakfast and Arabic breads called manakeesh,” George says.
The manakeesh are traditional breakfast breads able to be enjoyed throughout the day. Choose from toppings such as lamb and Arabic spices; baladi (rustic goat cheese) and poppy seed; and za’atar with crushed thyme, sesame seed and olive oil.
Sedara features 15 rotating types of baklava, handmade by one of Esraa’s relatives in Detroit. Choose from varieties including traditional baklava, mabrum (deep-fried shredded wheat with pistachios), bird’s nest, rose and more.
“Iraqis cook with love and they use top-of-the-line honey, nuts and fat. The quality is reflected in the taste,” George says.
From the drink menu, choose from Arabic coffee and Arabic tea flavored with a hint of cardamom as well as a Western-style drink menu featuring Breve coffee, including espressos, chillers and more.
“We’re the only Middle Eastern/Arabic coffee shop in the area. We are hoping to bring a little bit of the Middle East to the Midwest,” the Simons say. “Come give us a try.”
Sedara Sweets & Ice Cream is open daily from 8am to 10pm.
Sedara Sweets & Ice Cream, 8011 MacKenzie Road, Affton, Missouri, 314.532.6508, facebook.com/Sedara-Sweets-and-Ice-Cream-417347402162910/