Entertainment

Ottoman Cuisine

Rating: 16/20

  • Blackall Street, Barton, 6273 6111
  • Owners Serif and Gulbahar Kaya, chef Erkin Esen
  • Open lunch Tuesday to Friday, dinner Tuesday to Saturday
  • Licensed and BYO, corkage $15 a bottle
  • Wheelchair accessible, disabled toilets

Ottoman celebrates 20 years as a leader on the Canberra restaurant scene next year and plans a major refurb, so by next spring the look will be entirely different.

What you get now at this temple of Turkish and wider Mediterranean cuisine in Barton is a kind of understated opulence, a carpeted and chandeliered sophistication with spaced tables in a large room, offering a lovely relaxation.

It's a nice place to be, and by the sounds, will transform next year into an exciting and colourful place to be.

Service is very good, with Gulbahar Kaya, wife of executive chef Serif Kaya (who is based in the Sydney Ottoman), keeping a close watch over things.

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Food is gorgeous, and what we like best about it is the kind of loud honesty of the food. It's not over-refined and not fussy on the plate, but is almost bistro in its big flavours.

We love the ciger tava ($18), a powerful lamb's liver entree that comes as little fingers of liver, served very simply; and the salmon and prawn rolls ($21), in which crayfish and prawn meat is wrapped in vine leaves, then battered and fried.

So true has Ottoman stayed to its bistro beginnings that you can order Turkish dips here - hummus, carrot, baba ghanoush, beetroot and the like, served with house-made pide bread; or skewers of organic chicken, lamb or kingfish ($31-$32).

For dessert, Ottoman does baklava, poached pears, custard, marked by gorgeous Mediterranean flavours, and Turkish ice creams, made with salep powder, which gives a stretchy, almost chewy texture, in flavours like pomegranate, passionfruit and pistachio ($16 for three).

The wine list is very well priced (actually, the menu feels well priced also) and it's good, largely Australian based with the best local wines also.

Ottoman Cuisine stands as among the very best places to eat out in Canberra, and we're all wound up with anticipation of Serif Kaya's return to Canberra next year to open a more casual bistro and wine bar in Kingston.

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