- Chloe Grabham
Review: A trip to Istanbul, Stanbuli- Enmore
Sometimes there is just an unexplained charm of a place that drives you back time and time again, and each time the tasting adventure is a little bit different than the last. It might be a change in the seasons, a wine from a different region, or a combination of unexpected flavours that hit all the right notes. For me this is Stanbuli in Enmore, a dining mecca of where old meets new and every visit feels like home.
That is by no means an easy feat to achieve in the competitive age of restaurants, especially in ever-expanding Sydney. But the winning formula of keeping to tradition, using high-quality seasonal produce and delivering dishes with heart seems to be working for this little piece of Istanbul.
The unmissable Marie-Louise Hair Salon facade still keeps face on bustling Enmore Road, gleaming with its milkshake pink and purple retro curves and glowing neon signage. Many moons ago, this was where one would go to get a fashionable do, now it is where one goes to be transported straight to the streets of Istanbul to encounter the pure makings of Turkish cuisine.
Elegantly dressed waitstaff greet and guide to the chicly designed upstairs dining room which is a hum with fellow dinners and not a belly dancer, snake charmer or shisha pipe in sight. Thank goodness.
The chef's menu is by far one of the best-valued dining experiences in Sydney at $65, there are about five courses that you can select yourself, but I feel is best left up to the kitchen to decide. There's starters, cold mezzes, warm mezzes, grilled meats, salads and at times it feels like the plates will never stop arriving!
During the warmer months the Kavun ve Peynir ($8), Seasonal Melon with Sheep's Milk Feta is a refreshing way to cleanse the palate, balanced with the juicy melon and creamy subtly of the sheep feta. The Gavurdagi Salata ($13) brings together finely cut green olives with the crunch of walnuts and pistachios, herbs and tart pomegranate jewels, a real savoury salad.
Lovers of baba ganoush will appreciate the Patlican Salata ($13), a mixture of smoked eggplant, lemon and olive oil. It makes a great accompaniment to the meat dishes like the Adana Kebap ($24) of minced lamb belly mixed with capsicum and chilli, grilled over hot coals, served with a white bean salad.
As many of you know, I don't often eat desserts because honestly, I am not a massive sweets fan, but the tahini parfait($14) gets me every time. It's not overly sweet and brings together a clever balance of saltiness with the tahini helva parfait that is then served with a side of vanilla cream and Turkish coffee ice cream. Very Moorish and is a great size for sharing.
The allure of Stanbuli is that it is just as much about the experience as it is the food, they go hand in hand to create a memorable feast.
This is one of the inner west's most loved dining playgrounds, so it is recommended to grab some friends, book a table, crack open a bottle of Turkish wine and wear those stretchy pants.
No.135 Enmore Rd