Thursday, December 6, 2012

Efendy Restaurant, Balmain

Driving past Efendy each work day for a year while I was working out on the Balmain peninsula had me intrigued. Balmain, with all its worthy eateries, doesn't make it on my eating list often because I'm lazy and can't be bothered trying to find a car park on a busy evening. Efendy, however, is placed just off Darling Street halfway between the busy strips of Rozelle and Balmain, and so parking isn't a chore.

The night boy and I chose for our visit happened to be one that the restaurant had a special set menu, featuring food from Gaziantep. Knowing very little about Gaziantep (read: nothing), I did a bit of research and found that Gaziantep is in the South of Turkey, near the border with Syria, and is famous for its kebabs and baklava. Hello!

The menu for the evening consisted of a ridiculous amount of dishes, so boy and I settled in for an evening of gluttony, and promised that we'd do some (never to eventuate) exercise in the morning.

Is there any food more satisfying than fresh, warm bread? Having already fallen in love with Lebanese and Greek breads, I found bread-love anew with this Turkish pide. Fatter and fluffier than the other varieties, this bread was paired with a dip of olive oil and pomegranate molasses, which was a punch of flavour in which to dip the munchable bread. Also part of the nibbles course, was a red capsicum and walnut dip, as well as a beetroot and yogurt dip. Not being a fan of capsicum, I didn't warm to the capsicum dip on my first taste, but I couldn't help going back for more and more, and before long it was a firm favourite.

I hold a special place in my heart for ugly-looking food, so when the eggplant shells stuffed with lamb, sumac and rice came out, I had a feeling it would taste amazing. Similar to other stuffed vegetable dishes from the Mediterranean region, this dish is perfect comfort food, and had a perfect blend of spices. Boy, being a comfort-food fanatic, labelled this the dish of the night.

On a foodie high, we had already been won over to Turkish cuisine before the mains graced the table. First up was the veal shank with fresh almonds and saffron yogurt (top photo). Sadly, while we enjoyed the learning-curve of eating our first fresh green almonds, this dish was our least favourite of the evening. Perhaps, as newbies, we didn't appreciate the special-ness of the almonds, which are only available in this form for about month each year, but found that the dish as a whole, despite the fabulous saffron yogurt, had too many almonds to pieces of meat, proportionally.

The charcoal lamb kebab, however, was divine. Served on a bed of mashed, smoky eggplant, this was what we came for. The purpose built barbecue in the courtyard of the restaurant was well worth the effort, and if these kebabs are anything to go by, Gaziantep is now on my travel wishlist. Stunning.

Thankful for the provision of dessert-stomachs, we had just enough room to squeeze in the sweet options of baklava and a pistachio pudding. Yet again, pomegranate made a welcome addition, and the floss on top of the pudding added great texture.

After such a great introduction to Turkish cuisine at Efendy, with an atmosphere that managed to incorporate both couples and groups successfully, I'd love to return and try their regular menu.

Efendy Restaurant
79 Elliot Street
Efendy Restaurant | meze bar on Urbanspoon

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