Efendy: Restaurant Review
Dreaming of dining alfresco style this summer? Fancy sampling some exotic flavours with a side of warm Turkish hospitality? lastminute lovely Louise gives us the lowdown on Efendy restaurant in leafy Balmain, Sydney.
The meal kicks off with a round of warm pide and a selection of cold meze brought on a tray to the table by our friendly waiter. We take his advice (judging by his groomed Turkish good-looks and impressive moustache he knows what he’s talking about) and go the capsicum and pomegranate humus, braised fresh almonds with tahini and sauteed eggplant, zucchini and potato saksuka.
I fear the meal may have peaked too early. I kid you not when I say the pomegranate infused humus is the BEST humus I have ever had. Big call. But as a once (admittedly part-time) vegetarian I know my humus and this one’s a winner. The fresh almonds are light and interesting and the saksuka is tomatoey and rich with a good balance of olive oil but the humus is the stand-out. Okay enough about the humus, move on from the humus.
And move on we did to entrees. We sample Icli, poached bulgur shells, spiced lamb and walnut, chili oil and yogurt, and Karides, shredded pastry wrapped king prawns over capsicum muhammara. The poached bulgar has an acquired, almost rubbery, texture which doesn’t really float my boat. But the delicately spiced lamb insides are very good. And hummah-hummah the Karides are amazing; beautifully cooked and seasoned prawns with a crunchy pastry coating – phenomenal. I have to hold back Mr LML from ordering more.
With the sun setting above our outdoor terrace table, the share-plate mains arrive with a flourish. We get the traditional chopped lamb kebabs, strained yogurt and smoked eggplant and the chargrilled chicken thighs, haloumi, pastime and pearl barley salad. The hot dishes are rich in Turkish flavours and we crush hard on the lamb kebab’s eggplant accompaniment – silky smooth in texture with a warm yet not overpowering smokiness – mmmm. A side of crisp wild rocket, hazelnut, feta and brown pear salad breaks up the protein heavy mains.
With a food coma approaching we persevere to be rewarded with dessert – the chef’s dessert platter to be precise – phew! We sample the Dondurma, a marash style knife cut salep and mastic ice cream with pistachio and the Kitir Kabak, candied crunchy blue pumpkin, yogurt mousse and walnut praline. The pumpkin provides an interesting take on a savoury sweet dessert for those that way inclined.
But it’s the Dondurma that has our tastebuds-a-tingling. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever had. Candy-floss meets creaminess meets lolly. It’s sticky and sweet, yet has a fragrant, delicate taste. Definitely put it on the unusual, must-eat list.
At fifty-eight bucks per person (or an extra ten dollars if you’re adding seafood, which I would really recommend for those heavenly prawns) the ‘Anatolian Feast’ is great value. But you can dine a la carte if you want something lighter. Some more unusual Turkish offerings that we side-stepped included pan fried lamb testicles with isot and hazelnut tarator and deboned and roasted head of lamb cheeks, brain and tongue with dry spices. Offal lovers eat your heart out.
And it’s not all about the food. Efendy has a good wine list. When in Rome, I mean Turkey, go for an authentic drop. We chose the Sevilen ‘Majestik’ Sauvignon Blanc to be precise. It’s a perfect light accompaniment to the meal and at thirty-eight dollars per bottle it’s also reasonably priced.
Whether you want a romantic dinner for you and your piece of hot stuff, or are planning a large group gathering, Efendy has both bases covered. On a balmy summer evening my advice is to arrive early, settle in to your courtyard table and stay long. Mmm summer dining bliss Turkish style.