The busy Sofra dining room is a riot of colour, patterns and textures. Every table is full, and there’s a festive buzz in the air – though be warned, Toowoomba locals do like to get their evening meal over and done with quite early by Sydney standards.
We join the party by getting stuck straight into a Turkish red called Sevilen Kalecik Karası Plato ($40/bottle). It’s deep red in colour, with lots of up-front berry sweetness that makes Pinot Noir a good reference point for this wine. It has very smooth tannins, so works as a quaffer.
Keen for some vegetables, we decided upon Mücver ($12.50) a dish that purported to offer zucchini, carrot and fresh herb fritters we would wrap up in cos lettuce leaves with a garlic yoghurt dip. It arrived without the lettuce wraps, and left us feeling a little bloated from eating too much deep-fried.
Luckily our side of Turkish Chilli Pickles ($3) worked to aid digestion.
Rosemary skewers of Haloumi Cheese ($12.50) with heirloom tomatoes and fresh herbs arrived as skewer-less salty wedges of nicely melted haloumi cheese on a small bed of salad.
Strangely my Hünkar Beğendi ($25) – a slow cooked beef stew also called Sultan’s Delight - was served on yoghurt rather than the expected smoked eggplant puree. To my eye, this unannounced substitution didn’t really work for the lightly flavoured, tomato-based stew, which wanted something bigger to riff off.
My dining companion fared better Karisik Izgara ($30) or mixed grill. What this dish lacked in presentation, it made up for in flavour across adana kebab, chicken shish kebab and lamb shish kebab. We ate it with the accompanying rice, saving our bread to dip in Pomegranate, Olive Oil and Dukkah ($3).
For me, the Turkish food here lacks the clarity I’ve come to expect from modern Turkish cuisine. It’s clearly popular with Toowoomba locals, so perhaps I’ve just had the luxury of having my palate spoilt by living inside Sydney’s modern Turkish triangle, its points formed by the famed Somer Siviroglu who has popularised this cuisine at Efendy and now Anason, the newer Stanbuli in Newtown, and Pazar Collective’s less reverent Mexican-Turkish crossover in Canterbury. Where Sofra did excel though was in heartfelt Turkish hospitality that started at the top, and rippled down through their whole service team.
Sofra Turkish Cuisine
164 Margaret Street, Toowoomba
Ph: (07) 4638 0044