I went to Turkey for my birthday, a night filled with smoky charcoal grilled meats, zingy salads and soft and fluffy bread fresh from the oven. Except we didn't need our passports and no flights were required. We took a trip down the road to Enmore to Stanbuli and found ourselves transported to Turkey, snacking on meze and charcoal grilled meats in a non-stop two hour feast.
We've chosen the Chef's Menu at Stanbuli, a rolling banquet of dishes priced at $75 per person. The menu is entirely in the hands of head chef Ibrahim Kasif, although they will happily accommodate any dietary requirements. We let them know we'll eat everything - including all kinds of offal - and wait in suspense as to what will arrive.
Round 1: Snacks
Our table of nine is hit with an assortment of snacks to start. There's nothing quite like seeing a table littered with dishes. My favourite is probably the rockmelon, lush and syrupy sweet, against the cool brininess of Turkish sheeps milk feta.
Rockmelon with Turkish sheeps milk feta
House cured pastirma spiced beef with pickles
Ekmek daily baked house bread
The house bread is also amazing. Fresh from the oven, the crust is noisily crisp against its pillowy innards.
Turkish Cypriot style green olives
Mussels stuffed with rice
And we're pleased to receive one of their signature dishes, mussels stuffed with rice. It's deliciously simple but so tasty for such a modest mouthful.
Round 2: Meze
Our table is cleared for the next round of dishes, a rainbow of meze. We pick our way through creamy lambs brains, tender pickled lambs tongue and a variety of cold dishes marked by a distinct tartness from pomegranate molasses.
Bakla broad beans in their pods
braised in olive oil, tomato and lemon
The broad bean dish is one of my highlights, cooked to a velvety softness with the slight acidity of lemon and tomato.
Raw meatballs with bulgur, onion and tomato paste
Raw meatballs aren't as heavy on the raw meat as you'd expect. There's a chewiness from soaked bulgur, seasoned with tomato paste, onion and plenty of spices.
Pickled lambs tongue
with white bean salad
Patlican smoky eggplant salad
with peppers, tomatoes and chilli
Kisir Turkish tabouli
Raw kingfish, bulgur, parsley and chillies in sumac, lemon and pomegranate
Chilled lambs brain salad
Lambs brains are wondrous.
Finely chopped salad of walnuts, chillies, peppers and tomato with a pomegranate vinaigrette
Veal sweetbread in housemade milk bun
Veal sweetbreads arrive in housemade milk buns, the kind of one-handed snack you could picture yourself eating while wandering the streets of Istanbul.
Round 3: Charcoal
We're already groaning by the time the third round of dishes arrive, an assembly of charcoal grilled meats with salads and sides.
Pan-fried lamb liver spiced with cumin and chilli
Pan-fried lamb liver is seasoned generously with cumin and chilli. A salad of onion and purslane leaves works well against the spiced char.
Handcut Mumma-style chips with cheesy zucchini and broken egg
Patates yummurta provides a comforting eggy take on handcut chips. The cheesy zucchini and egg mix is like a blanket of cheesy scrambled eggs.
Whole chicken cooked over charcoal and wood with garlic tarator and lemon
Roasted chicken has a tantalising smokiness from charcoal and wood. The flesh is impressively succulent. We dip each piece greedily into the garlic tarator. Who cares about garlic breath when fluffy garlic dip is involved.
Coban salatasi shepherds salad
Fresh market vegetables with herbs, lemon and olive oil
Shepherds salad is just what you need to break up the protein. We relish the crunch of cucumber, capsicum and red onion against juicy tomatoes in a lemon and herb dressing.
Smoky lamb ribs slow cooked over charcoal and wood
We languish over a platter of smoky lamb ribs. The lamb is ribboned with creamy fat. It's a carnivore's pleasure of charred but juicy flesh. We rip every skerrick of meat off until to bones are clean.
Coconut biscuit with coconut ice cream
I score a birthday candle on one of the desserts, a coconut biscuit with coconut ice cream that I can't stop eating. The toasted hazelnuts are wickedly good.
with barley, pomegranate, almonds and sesame seeds
Tahini parfait is a sesame seed lover's delight. We scoop up spoonfuls of smooth parfait and appreciate the textural contrast of barley, black sesame seeds and pomegranates arils.
Syrup soaked sponge with banana ice cream
We finish with a syrup soaked sponge, topped with a quenelle of banana ice cream and smothered in biscuit crumbs and passionfruit seeds.
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12/18/2016 05:25:00 pm