It’s been a while since I’ve had Turkish food, so I was pretty excited to head on up to Efendy for some good ol’ fashioned feasting.
“Shots on arrival!” Well, two to be exact: Mastika and Narsist ($5 by tea glass and $25 by 500ml carafe).
The Mastika consists of Hendricks gin, mastic liquor, lemon, and cucumber – a wonderful, refreshing concoction where you can only taste just a hint of gin. The Narsist was my favourite of the two though. Made from Bacardi, pomegranate molasses, fresh mint, and pomegranate, it was bright and sweet; I loved that I couldn’t taste the rum in it at all (but oh so dangerous).
As good as the shots were, my eyes lit up upon the arrival of the adorable mini pides ($2.50 and freshly baked on the premises no less!), pomegranate and capsicum humus topped with spicy sujuk ($12), and smoked babaganus with isot pistachio ($12).
The humus was quite delicious with the sweet capsicum flavouring shining though, but it was the perfect smokiness and creaminess of the babaganus that I couldn’t stop going back to. Though there is a bit of a zesty zing in the babaganus from the tahini that some might find a bit too much.
The dried eggplant shells dolma with lamb, bulgar, and sumac molasses ($16) was a tad bit on the spicy side for me (sadly, it was a squishies-only issue as no one else seemed to have any trouble with it), but the tangy tahini sauce (I think) soothed the spiciness a bit.
Offal is not really my strong suit. Sure there are exceptions (so very few), but I’m mostly wary of that strong offal-y after taste, which doesn’t seem to sit right with my taste buds. So I was a bit hesitant to try the lamb’s liver with red onion, sumac salad ($14), but you gotta be in it to win it, right? The dish was surprisingly light – the flavour doesn’t hang heavy in the mouth, outstaying its welcome – and only had the tiniest hint of that offal after taste.
The beef leaf kebap with iskender sauce, yoghurt, and pide ($20) was incredibly tender, perfectly seasoned, and served on top of pide pieces – I didn’t quite get to the pide, but oh boy, I can imagine how delicious it would have been all soaked in scrumptious juices. The garlic oil and sauce was the crowning touch!
I would have to say that the fisherman’s stew ($18) was a smorgasbord of punchy flavour. It’s not surprising considering it consists of prawns and mussels in an artichoke and okra stew with shanklish cheese. So much going on, yet the flavours are still quite harmonious with each other.
Efendy really knows how to make a perfect kebap! The lamb loquat kebaps ($18) were scrumptiously succulent and had a slightly sweet-sour tang from the loquate (I thought it was potatoes at first and was only marginally disappointed). The rice bed was slightly tangy too and delicious as it was, I wished that there was just a teensy bit of a cream or something to cut through all that the sharpness.
The wild rocket, tomato, walnut, pomegranate, and feta spoon salad ($10) was bright and slightly tart from the pomegranates; I adored the crunchiness in this salad.
Oh my goodness, this dish was deep fried salty goodness with an oozing cheese as a bonus. You can’t argue with that kind of combo!
I was getting pretty full by this stage, but there was chopped lamb adana, pia, tomato salad ($18) to be had… but it was rather spicy with all that raw onion and red pepper (I wasn’t sure if I was disappointed or relieved that I couldn’t finish it!).
Our last meze dish was the veal kofte and white bean piyaz ($16) – I was so focussed on the wonderfully juicy veal that I completely forgot about the white beans! (I guess that says something hehe.)
I was incredibly happy that we were sharing desserts – I wanted to try them all, but I know I could only try a little of each (I need a bigger stomach).
While the traditional baklava were divinely crisp with the right touch of sugary goodness and the candied pumpkin was quite interesting, my favourite dessert had to be the pistachio and almond keskul with its fairy floss like topping. It was a bit amiss of me not getting a photo of the actual keskul, but it’s an almond-based milk pudding and was fabulously creamy and smooth.
Efendy is a cheerful restaurant with a wonderfully warm vibe. It’s kind of split into two: where we dined was the meze bar (so a more casual sort dining, meze-style), while upstairs is more formal.
I did make a face at the prospect of finding parking in Balmain, but Efendy is on the corner of a side street that yields a couple of spots, so it’s not too bad.
eatshowandtell dined as a guest of Wasamedia and Efendy
79 Elliott Street (Corner of Darling Street)
Balmain, NSW, 2041
Ph: (02) 9810 5466