The eye-catching pink and purple façade of the Marie-Louise Hair Salon has been left untouched by new owners Joe Valore and Elvis Abrahanowicz of Bodega, Porteno and LP’s Quality Meats fame. While preserving history is important, you might want to mention that the restaurant name is written in a small sign placed in the rounded window to anyone you’re planning on meeting here…
Their co-owner here is their former chef, Ibrahim Kasif, realising his dream of a casual Istanbul-style eatery. It’s a fair step up from Sydney’s usual Turkish mainstays - kebab shops - with the downstairs space populated by orderly rows of raki bottles and symmetrical blue floor tiles.
The bar style seating is perfect for quaffing Efes ($8) pilsner and plates of rice-stuffed mussels - Midye Folme ($3/each) - common street food in Istanbul.
Icli Kofta ($8/each) certainly look familiar, but are a notch above your usual kofte with moist, well-seasoned beef mince, crushed walnuts and chilli wrapped in a bulgur (cracked wheat) shell.
Make a selection from the mostly Mediterranean wine list to accompany a more leisurely meal upstairs, taken in the genteel Sarah Doyle styled dining room, complete with thematic blue and white wallpaper and flowers. Spanish Garnatxa (Grenache) works well with Turkish cuisine, in whichever colour you favour. The 2014 L’Arnot Blanc Grenache Blanc/Macabeu ($69) from Catalan is light and fresh, and will dance nicely against lighter meze like Bakla ($14). This fava bean pate is served with yoghurt, pickled okra and radish, under a pretty tangle of purslane and fennel leaves.
For selections from the charcoal grill, the Privat GX Garnatxa ($75) is well balanced with soft tannins and cherry notes. It’ll go gangbusters with Pirzola ($38/3, $48/4) – a trio of giant untrimmed lamb cutlets.
It'll also suit Uykuluk ($18), a tasty yet simple plate of spiced lamb sweetbreads brightened by marinated capsicum and onion salad, and a must-have platter of Hellim ($20) grilled sheep and cow milk cheese turned golden, melty and delicious over coals.
Biber Yogurt ($10) lives up to the hot and fiery description, with long, green, charcoal roasted chillies doused in a liberal amount of yoghurt (for a reason).
It’s probably the only dish we didn’t scrape dry, after mopping up every skerrick of Patlican Salatasi ($14) – smokey eggplant salad – with soft slabs of bread.
Yep, the portions are small, and sides like Patates Yumurta ($14) with potato chunks, scrambled eggs and super-tasty sucuk (sausage) are neither cheap nor particularly substantial. So while it’s delightful to see a wider, more nuanced expression of Turkish cuisine, I’m in two minds as to whether it's elevated enough to justify the spend and the smaller serves.
Pro-tip: Team this with a visit to Hakiki Turkish Ice Cream down the road for the perfect Turkish night out.
135 Enmore Road, Enmore
Ph: (02) 8624 3132