Dining reviewer WENDY JOHNSON reveals her list of Canberra’s top five restaurants for 2017.
ONE of the world’s wonders has got to be food. I drool over dishes from different cultures. It inspires and intrigues me. And that includes the northern-western Turkish cuisine that is the focus of the newish Origin Turkish Kitchen in Manuka.
For many years, this relatively small space on Captain Cook Crescent was Lee’s Inn, famous (in part) for its generous, tasty $5 soups. Now that I’ve positioned it, let’s tuck into the new experience that is the Origin Turkish Kitchen.
With Turkish cuisine we’re talking wonderful spices, loads of vegetables, herbs and seafood; charcoal grilling; slow cooking and wonderful techniques.
We kickstarted our experience with sigara boregi ($14.50), light pastry filled with piping hot, oozy, salty feta cheese, fresh herbs and white sauce. Addicting is the only word that describes these little, cigar-shaped delights.
Another highlight was the charcoal grilled prawns ($25.90). Turkish cuisine has mastered the art of marinating and this dish demonstrated that beautifully. The prawns packed a punch on flavour and most were wonderfully moist and tender (some slightly overcooked). The dish was complete with fluffy Turkish pilav (rice) and a salad with grilled vegetables.
From the “Chef’s Favourites” part of the menu, we dug into the iskender ($24.70), thinly shaved lamb with tomato sauce, punchy fresh chilli, creamy cool yoghurt and soft Turkish bread. My only concern was the level of salt, which we felt was a tad over the top. We were thankful we had the yoghurt to help cut through.
We were pretty stuffed at this stage or we might have had a go at some of the other “Chef’s Favourites”, such as the moussaka ($23.90) or the kuzu incik ($25.90), slow-cooked lamb shank – two heart-warming, cold-weather dishes. We would also have indulged in a decadent baklava ($8.50) or sutlac, a Turkish-style rice pudding ($9.90).
If you can’t decide what to order, head to the banquet offerings, which include a mini option ($28 per person, for minimum of two) and a vegetarian banquet ($35 per person).
The décor at Origin Turkish Kitchen is built around bold, bright colours. The walls are painted a strong tomato red, the massive wall artworks – with scenes from Turkey – are each loaded with colour. The exotic-looking lamps add further pops of colour and the black and white tablecloths feature a traditional mosaic-type pattern.
We found the lights too bright for evening dining. It would be nicer to have softer lighting for a more comfortable ambience.
It’s attentive service with a full smile at Origin Turkish Kitchen.
9/2-10 Captain Cook Crescent, Manuka, call 6232 6984. Open six days, breakfast (from 10am, lunch and dinner until 10pm). Some outdoor dining available. BYO.
Photos by MADDIE McGUIGAN