Friday, May 04, 2007

Ottoman Cuisine, Hickson Rd, Dawes Point

Ottoman Cuisine, Hickson Rd, Dawes Point
Friday 4 May, 2007

I never thought this day would come! Having been a fan of Ottoman during my Canberra years I was absolutely thrilled to learn they were planning to venture north and open in Sydney.

Ottoman is the highly awarded Turkish that has called Canberra its home for over 12 years. Once located in Manuka it moved across to Barton in recent years in to a purpose built mecca. It's not surprising that the Sydney venue is impressive. Owner/ chef, Serif Kaya, has reportedly spent $5 million fitting it out, including $150,000 on feature lights. Wow!

Ottoman Cuisine is located near the Sebel Pier One, just a hop, skip and a jump from my favourite tapas joint, Firefly and an easy walk from the Sydney Theatre and Wharf theatres. Tonight, we were off to see 'Self Esteem' the Brendan Cowell play for the Sydney Wharf2Loud.

We arrived at Ottoman a little early to have drinks and walked into a foyer type area that included a bar, impressive wine storage and the entrance to the kitchen. Was this the right entrance? We entered a little further and found a sweeping corner with panelled wood that curved around into the main dining space. A staff member approached and informed us that they do not open to 6.30pm so we could return then. She also muddled her way through an explanation about re-setting the tables from lunch etc but quite frankly it was not a good start.

We wandered over to the Sebel Pier One for drinks and perched ourselves in the front bar with a fabulous twelve square metre floodlit glass floor that goes straight through the Harbour. It's a little disconcerting to walk over at first. We ordered a bottle of wine and sat back enjoying the atmosphere and watching the conference delegates from 'Total Tools' - seriously!

At 6.30pm we returned to Ottoman for attempt #2. On the way in we watched a group leave...........from lunch. They had clearly had a sensational long lunch so we took the opportunity to ask them what they enjoyed. The overwhelming response was the duck and I think if we had made the offer they would have turned around and come back inside with us to kick on.

We entered the dining space and were shown to our table by a staff member that clearly wanted to be somewhere else, he tried to be funny but it came out as insincere and inappropriate. The dining room is large with 2 private dining areas that can be sectioned from the main room. The facilities are located upstairs which can pose a problem after enjoying a few drinks.

Shortly afterwards a waiter arrived at our table who was happy to share with us that the restaurant has been open for 2 months and he had travelled with 3 staff (including the owner) from Canberra to set up the operation here. He clearly knew his stuff and was a great advocate for the Ottoman experience ( I wish I remembered his name because he deserves recognition). As we glanced over the menu he returned and offered to design a 5 course tasting menu for us. Brilliant. Off the top of his head he rattled off a few dishes (including the duck) and gained our approval. I love that - the tasting menu would allow us to try a range of dishes:

- Pide bread: baked on premises (deliciously soft and warm - great for soaking up the sauces from the other dishes)
- Kral balak: lemon cured kingfish served with fresh pickled beetroot salad (light and fresh explosion of flavours - lemon and beetroot is a great pairing)
- Kabak: zucchini flowers served with yoghurt and dill sauce (the lightest, crispy batter and the best goats cheese)
- Karides: king prawns with shitake mushrooms & spinach, served with lemon sauce (the lemon sauce here was a standout - I could have eaten a plate of these)
- Salmon dolma: fresh atlantic salmon rolls of cray, prawns & fish; wrapped in vine-leaves, lightly battered served with a savory piquant sauce (the lightest, crispy batter and tender salmon)
- Marinated veal rolls in a crispy outer shell drizzled with yoghurt (minced veal that oozed out of the rolls after one mouthful)
- Ordek: oven roasted confit of duck served crisp on mash with aromatic juniper-berry jus (probably the best duck I have ever eaten - I will return for this)

We enjoyed every mouthful and became so caught up with the food and company that we didn't even realise the restaurant had filled to capacity with a few 'famous' faces too (Bob Hawke & Blanche d'Alpuget and Charlie Brown & Danny Avidan). We didn't want the experience to end and couldn't go past dessert:

- Chocolate slice: lindt chocolate with biscuit center with home-made raspberry ice-cream (if you love Cherry Ripes this is the dessert for you)
- Crème brulee: rich custard with burnt toffee on top (creamy and rich)
- Revani: moist semolina & orange cake with orange segments & sauce (the sauce had soaked through the whole cake so was an orange, syrupy cake)

For $100 per head (including drinks) we had a sensational dinner that was cut short as we had to leave for our play. If we weren't seeing the play we would have stayed on. This is a great experience...........make your reservation today.

Ottoman Cuisine - Pier 2/13 Hickson Rd, Dawes Point - (02) 9252 0054


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