Efendy, Balmain

Long before share plates became on trend, Turkish and Middle Eastern food has been about grazing, conversations and sharing a cornucopia of dishes around the dinner table.

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Efendy restaurant in Balmain is an established part of the Sydney dining scene. Owner and Chef Somer Sivrioglu, along with his team have been delighting Sydney-siders with a taste of Turkey that inspires culinary travel, so much that he is now leading food tours in Turkey.

Set over two levels, the house turned restaurant is symbolic of hospitality with a large courtyard that invites open air dining in summer. The space leads onto the ground level of the restaurant where the décor is pared back with bare bricks, a fireplace, solid wooden tables and a vibrant wall with modern Turkish pop art. Upstairs, it’s white tablecloths and more formal dining.

The menu is a delight and to prepare you for a feast, it is best to start with Turkey’s national drink, Raki, the aniseed flavoured spirit diluted with water and served with ice. It is simply the best accompaniment to the Meze that follows or an Efes beer, a Pilsner style brewed in Turkey. House-made pita bread arrives, puffed and inviting, with a side of cheese and butter on zaatar and sumac.

Before you settle in for the evening, the feast begins with Mini Pide Bread, baked to order, to be dipped into Extra Virgin Olive Oil dotted with sweet pomegranate molasses ($2.50 each). The meze tray arrives ($9 each), an assortment of temptations in the form of hommus, marinated olives and feta cheese with walnuts. The silky smooth Smoked Babaganus, packing a lot of smoke and a hint of heat is the best any side of Turkey. The Vodka Marinated Deep Sea Bream follows, with tender pieces of lightly picked fish with radishes and grapes for a hint of sweetness.

Pastirma, or Bastourma, a staple in Armenian cuisine and Turkish food comes wrapped around string cheese on a bed of avocado – a popular and tasty combination of the chaman spiced air-dried beef with the white cheese. A large tentacle of Octopus in a fiery spicy sauce scattered with pomegranate is worth the little knife and fork effort.

Offal is no stranger at Efendy, with sheep’s head and lamb testicles selling out at Taste of Sydney in previous years. The testicles have made it onto the menu but tonight’s piece is Lamb’s Liver with red onion and sumac salad. The liver surprisingly lacks the unpleasant texture that coats the mouth, with the tang of the sumac salad adding a little zing.

The house special, Flinders Island Whole Lamb Shoulder Pie is not to be missed. Served in a clay pot covered with bread, the lamb is slow-cooked on the bone and comes with aromatic rice, currants and almond ich pilav. Tender, sweet with a hint of spices, the lamb melts in the mouth. The dish is generously portioned and meant to be shared.

Dessert at Efendy is always a guilty pleasure, and the Chef’s Dessert Platter has a delicious mastic ice cream, poached quince with cheese and the signature baklava that goes down a treat with Turkish coffee.

The Efendy experience is reflective of Turkish hospitality. While you may enjoy a dinner for two, it is worth taking your friends along to share in some of the best food this side of Turkey.

79 Elliott St
Balmain NSW 2041
Ph: +61 2 9810 5466

About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is a drinks writer, author of GROW YOUR OWN COCKTAIL GARDEN, SHRUBS & BOTANICAL SODAS and founder/editor of Gourmantic, Cocktails & Bars and The Gourmantic Garden. She has been writing extensively about spirits, cocktails, bars and cocktail gardening in more recent years. She is a spirits and cocktail competition judge, Icons of Whisky Australia nominee, contributor to Diageo Bar Academy, cocktail developer and is named in Australian Bartender Magazine's Top 100 Most Influential List. Her cocktail garden was featured on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia and has won several awards. She is a contributor to Real World Gardener radio program and is featured in several publications including Pip Magazine, Organic Gardener, Australian Bartender and Breathe (UK). Read the full bio here.