Turkish delights at Ottoman Cuisine

by Forager on March 31, 2009

The last time we went to Ottoman Cuisine was just over a year ago and it was such a delicious memory it was chosen again as the venue for another celebration. This time we were celebrating phase 2 of the co-pilot’s parents’ birthdays as they fall within a week of each other.

When our group of 12 arrive, there is still plenty of light remaining from the early evening sunset giving us gold drenched views of the harbour from our table. We take our seats at the table and order essentially the same thing we did last time – all the entrees from the a la carte menu as our own customised degustation, this time excluding the large platter of kulbasti (thinly sliced chargrilled veal) as although it was tasty it was overkill last time and left us bursting at the seams.

We’re drinking wines, chatting and admiring the spacious converted warehouse surroundings when the first set entrees arrive. A selection of tasty dips which I arrange like a colour palette on my plate, followed by the yaprak ve biber dolma (vine leaves and baby capsicum filled with rice, pine-nuts, currants, herbs and allspice, cooked with olive oil). It’s all tasty and devoured quickly. At this point I must apologise for the dirty plate background in most of my photos that follow this course as most of the dishes were brought out as communal plates served by the waiters onto our individual plates.

Next we have the kabak mucver (crispy zucchini puffs served with yoghurt and dill sauce) and the cicek (zucchini flowers stuffed with goats feta and pine-nuts, served crisp with a yoghurt and dill sauce). The zucchini puffs were not particularly interesting, they were too doughy and lacked any flavour, but the stuffed zucchini flowers were glorious – the molten goats cheese spilling out as I bit into them. These dishes were soon followed by mantar (chargrilled spicy mushrooms tossed in cumin, oregano and mild Aleppo chilli), then the etli borek (crisp homemade filo rolls filled with slow braised veal shank, currants and pine nuts, served with pomegranate and yoghurt sauce); both which were rich and scrummy with a fantastic crunchy texture. We were all getting quite full by this stage and I was starting to loosen my belt, but there was more to be eaten!

The patlicanli haloumi (eggplant parcels filled with haloumi and goats cheese, semolina dusted and served with a rocket and pomegranate dressing) caused a little ripple of excitement when we discovered it was filled with more of that amazing molten goats cheese. Delicious, crispy and gone in a flash. An ox heart tomato salad (domates salate) and a fatoush salad arrived – the vinegary dressing lifting my palette and appetite – just in time for the karniyarik (eggplant stuffed with lamb, pinenuts and currants served with a yoghurt and tahini sauce), a hearty dish – the currants, yoghurt and tahini adding complexity to the rich flavours.

Karides (king prawns with shiitake mushrooms and baby spinach served with a lemon and yoghurt sauce) were placed onto my plate and the aroma was mouthwateringly good. We tuck in eagerly into enormous juicy prawns – they tasted like stir fried garlic prawns and I hear murmurs of approval around me, but I was surprised when I read the menu description afterwards. I really didn’t taste the lemon or yoghurt.

The ciger tava (strips of crispy fried lambs liver with red onion and sumac) was tender, creamy and perfectly cooked. I comment on how moreish the liver is to Lou, one of the younger members in our party who was was enthusiastically tucking into the liver, when he freezes, fork halfway to his mouth. I make the analogy of liver to pate and he continues to eat, albeit with less enthusiasm. I’m just disappointed that by this stage I’m so full that I can only manage a few small bites.

Last up is the salmon dolma (salmon, cray and prawn wrapped in vine leaves, lightly battered, served with a savoury piquant sauce). Although I am bursting at the seams I finish the dolma (yes, I am a glutton) and think it was tastier than the version I had at the Taste Festival. The previous version was dominated by the flavour of salmon, whereas in this one the portion of cray was more generous than I remembered, lending more complexity to the flavour of the overall dish.

With the last bite I lapse into food coma state. In my peripheral vision I notice someone has ordered dessert but I can’t gather the energy to find out what it is, let alone get out of my chair and photograph it. For a girl that has had Turkish cuisine maybe only 3 times in my life, I’m very fortunate that 2 of those 3 experiences were at Ottoman Cuisine.

Pier 2/13 Hickson Road, Dawes Point, Sydney; (02)9252 0054
Open Tues – Fri 12pm – 3pm; 6pm – 10pm; Open Sat 6pm – 10pm.

Foodie in the know:
Bookings only taken via phone.
A quick consult with the resident Turk revealed one of the dish names had a quite intriguing translation. Karniyarik (the meat stuffed eggplant dish) literally means “disembowelled torso” (or the less graphic “slit belly”), which when you look at the dish is an apt albeit morbid name. The Turks clearly had a dark sense of humour. The vegetarian version of this dish is called Imam bayildi which translates to “Imam swooned” which apparently was his reaction when first presented with this dish (that or he fainted at the cost of the ingredients or the amount of oil used to cook the dish). I love food with a story!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella April 2, 2009 at 12:17 pm

What a fantastic sounding meal! I’ve got Ottoman on the must try list and this has convinced me to make haste and visit!

2 Forager April 3, 2009 at 10:43 am

Hey Lorraine – It was delicious so I highly recommend it! I trust if you go you’ll check out the desserts and do them more justice than I did! :)

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