As Barangaroo gears up to become Sydney’s go-to for dining and entertainment, Turkish-born chef Somer Sivrioglu (of Balmain restaurant Efendy) is getting the party started. His latest venture, Anason, is anchored amid a sea of pop-up eateries as the first permanent restaurant on Barangaroo’s foreshore promenade, Wulugul Walk.
The waterfront setting is perfect for this terrace restaurant inspired by Istanbul’s seaside meyhanes (taverns), where anise-flavoured raki is the drink of choice and longevity is assured by a tasty line-up of meze plates. If your idea of a night out in balmy Sydney involves grazing on share plates and sipping raki while watching the sun set over the water, you’re in good company. Although Anason opened less than a week ago, already Turkish Australians are converging here for a dose of authentic Turkish flavours, easy conversation and even singing.
The first thing you notice about this restaurant designed by interior architect George Livissianis is the “Istanbul blue” accent colour throughout – on the façade, the bar, the tiled tabletops and the Turkish-made pushcart containing simits (sesame-encrusted bread rings) that’s a nod to the moveable feast proffered by Istanbul’s street-food vendors.
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Framed by the blue façade, the bar is lined with steel shelves, up to four metres high, displaying jars of aromatic spices, a hand-picked selection of Turkish wines and the makings of Anason’s signature Watermelon Mint Cooler and Turkish Espresso Martini cocktails. The pendant lights could almost have been borrowed from the chandeliers of Istanbul’s magnificent mosques.
We start poring over a meze menu that has indecision (ours) written all over it. There’s something to please everyone – whether meat, seafood or vegetarian – and we could devour the entire menu if we had unlimited time. Still, we give it a red-hot go, ordering eight savoury plates to share between three people.
We kick off with pita bread baked on the restaurant’s custom-made saj oven and a plate of strained yoghurt topped with marash chillies and drizzled with burnt butter. The çiğ köfte (vegetarian meatballs), served on individual witlof leaves, pack a delightful isot-spiced punch, which is neutralised by the beetroot and cracked-wheat kisir salad with melon balls.
The seafood dolmas are full of promise – we’re on the waterfront, after all – and they don’t disappoint. The mussel dolmas, delicately thin stuffed molluscs, are served in the shell and presented on a Turkish newspaper tear sheet. However, it’s the dish of shanklish-stuffed calamari dolmas that deserves to be oohed and aahed, its prettiness belying the well-conceived blend of ingredients on the plate, particularly the more-ish avocado ganoush.
Of the meat dishes that follow, the stand-out is the succulent lamb fillet served on a bed of eggplant beğendi (purée). And be prepared to flout any high-cholesterol warnings when you order the carob-glazed lamb riblets oozing with fatty richness balanced by a fresh tomato ezme.
Among the desserts vying for our attention, the tulumba (Ottoman doughnuts) and syrupy revani (semolina cake) laced with citrus and topped with forest berries both hit the right notes. The Turkish coffee, dark chocolate and cardamom ice-cream is served in a copper-coloured coffee pot – a fun and ingenious touch – but purists would do best to order the coffee itself to round out a delightfully Turkish dining experience.
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