Efendy Traditional Turkish Restaurant

Rebecca Varidel
6th Jun 2015

Efendy in Balmain has always been a favourite, from long leisurely weekend brunches to dinner on a Sunday night.

Efendy means "Gentleman" in old Turkish, according to its menu. "It is used to describe people with traditional upbringing adopting modern views." And so it is with this Balmain restaurant that uses traditional Turkish recipes accumulated from and having influence from many neighbouring cultures over the last five centuries.

There's a wonderful feel in this corner spacious Victoria mansion, with a large courtyard at the front, and a long ground floor room with an eclectic mix of cushion-covered benches, wooden tables, and mismatched chairs. It lends itself well to the contemporary Turkish cuisine of Turkish Australian Chef Somer Sivrioğlu.

On the menu you'll find some of what you expect, like humus but with his upgraded touch laden with pomegranta, charred peppers and a mint salad. If you're undecided where to start, it's always a good bet to start here with dips and Zahter pita bread. Finger dipping goodness gets the party going.

Sivrioğlu's use of salads and vegetarian dishes is amazing. Broad bean and dill fava, cracked olives, caper berries is one such delight. It's probably one of the only places in Sydney where you'll find the piquant yet sweet barberries on the menu; in the current offering as Almond and barberry rice pilav. Cheese lovers can rejoice with the eggplant pairing in Whole roasted eggplant bomba, feta, haloumi, Tulum cheese. For sure, you'll be able to explore ingredients that might be new to you here.

Do you like beer battered fish? Efendy takes it up a notch with Beer battered black mussel tava, almond tarator. Or the another wonderful seafood dish, Kadayif king prawns, walnut, capsicum muhammara.

Edirne style lamb's liver, sage and sumac is a wonderful and wholesome dish, rich in flavour, playful with spices, deep in soul. There's no other way than picking up your juicy charcoal quail legs, than with your fingers. The eggplant begendi is a beautiful accompaniment. Lamb is popular in Turkish cuisine, so we'll have to go back, again and again, to try other specialties like our favourite Charcoal lamb kebap, Iskender sauce, yayik yoghurt, charred chilli, which on our last visit was the dish of the night.

But that's not before sweetly indulging in dessert, and of course the tauntingly moreish Turkish Delights, a must with Turkish coffee.

Efendy is a favourite among the Sydney food crowd, as is the very lovely Chef Somer Sivrioğlu. Proof in the pudding was the huge mob - of chefs and food media - that turned out for the launch of his wonderful new cookbook Anatolia.