I’m eating Mussel Dolma ($3/each) for the second time this month. Somer Sivrioglu has somehow managed to pull even more flavour from the bite-sized mussels, stuffed with spiced aromatic rice and presented on the half shell with lemon. When I mention this to him, he smiles and says magnanimously: “Sydney needs more Istanbul-style restaurants.”
Sitting drenched in golden light in this beautiful al fresco space on Wulugul Walk, Barangaroo’s foreshore promenade, I’m inclined to agree. The restaurant is modelled after Istanbul’s seaside meyhanes, taverns that serve up meze plates and raki, though if you’re going to indulge in the latter, I will warn you that the aniseed flavouring makes it a bit of an acquired taste.
Aniseed has been cleverly muted in the Anason Spring Punch ($16), which employs sherry, vermouth, vinegar and fruit to balance it. The Za’atar Old Fashioned ($19) takes the traditional whisky favourite, and improves it with a spice mix made of sumac, oregano and thyme. The spices cleverly leave a nice hole for you to actually taste the whisky.
After a soft Bao Bun ($12/each) filled with slices of tender veal tongue, house pickles and muhammara (a hot pepper dip), it’s time to move onto wine. The list sensibly offers up a mostly Turkish selection by glass, carafe or bottle, allowing you to sample widely and learn more about the country’s grapes.
The 2013 Plato Chardonnay ($14/$34/$67) from Güney, Turkey is affable and easy to drink against fluffy rounds of Pita Bread ($3/each) cooked in the domed saj.
While it’s served with both butter and spices, we use ours to scrap up the very tasty Atom ($12), smoky with dried marash chillies and burnt butter on hung yoghurt.
A quartet of charred Veal Kofte ($26) proves my favourite dish. The flavoursome meatballs are balanced by a white bean and tahini piyaz (salad) topped with a soft-cooked quail egg.
They more than make up for a lacklustre Cauliflower Tandir ($19) that wanted for more char.
After a warm farewell from the enthusiastic floor staff, I wander down the curiously blue-lit promenade for a post dinner martini at Gin & It.
And despite my casino-driven Barangaroo objections, I'm glad there are plenty more meze left on the Anason menu to try next time I want a taste of Turkey by the sea.
5/23 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo
Ph: (02) 9188 1581