Dining / The Turkish that always delights

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Kingfish and yellowfin tuna carpaccio… elegantly presented. Photo: Wendy Johnson

“Ottoman is housed in a gorgeous, glass, art-deco pavilion in Barton, surrounded by water features and gardens. It’s worth visiting for the surroundings alone,” writes dining reviewer WENDY JOHNSON.  

OTTOMAN restaurant is a Canberra culinary institution. There’s no doubt about that. 

Wendy Johnson.

Owner Şerif Kaya has been preparing gourmet Turkish cuisine for 28 years and I’ll never forget my first visit when the restaurant was in Manuka. 

Ottoman is now housed in a gorgeous, glass, art-deco pavilion in Barton, surrounded by water features and gardens. It’s worth visiting for the surroundings alone. 

Ottoman’s menu is a mix of classic Turkish dishes and ones inspired by modern-day cooking with specials celebrating seasonal produce. 

On the specials were lamb’s brains, which Ottoman has always mastered. The brains were lightly fried but creamy on the inside and accompanied by a bright salad with an intriguing dressing. I never hesitate to order them when they are on the menu at Ottoman. 

Lamb’s brains… lightly fried but creamy on the inside and accompanied by a bright salad. Photo: Wendy Johnson

Another winning special was the kingfish and yellowfin tuna carpaccio, elegantly presented on the plate, with the flavours delicately balanced.

Zucchini flowers… three crispy flowers filled with goat’s feta and haloumi cheese. Photo: Wendy Johnson

The zucchini flowers are another expertly created dish. Three crispy flowers filled with goat’s feta and haloumi cheese ($21) with a perky side salad. 

Another of our party ordered the pan-fried haloumi salad as a starter. The haloumi was salty and squeaked on the teeth when chewed, although some pieces were a tad overdone ($19). The salad of green beans, rocket and walnuts was tossed in a pomegranate dressing.

Deboned spatchcock… marinated with fresh thyme and lemon zest, and chargrilled. Photo: Wendy Johnson

Ottoman has always created delicious spatchcock and duck dishes. The deboned spatchcock was marinated with fresh thyme and lemon zest and chargrilled which adds to the flavour and appearance of the dish. The meat was super tender and served with cracked wheat pilaf and wilted baby spinach ($36).

The deboned duck was crispy on the outside and moist on the inside and once again pomegranate featured in the packed-full-of-flavour sauce ($36). 

Queensland king prawns… sautéed and cooked to perfection. Photo: Wendy Johnson

The final main celebrated Queensland king prawns, which were sautéed and cooked to perfection ($36). We found the saffron and pomegranate sauce overpowering for our liking, especially on the saffron side. 

We topped off the evening sharing a gorgeous plate of baklava.

If you’re not in the mood to select individual dishes, Ottoman offers a degustation menu ($85 per person or $125 with matching wines) and a banquet menu (minimum of four people at $70 per person).

Ottoman is known for its extensive wine list. It’s always been a masterpiece.

There was a mix up with our booking and confusion at the start, but we settled in fairly quickly and applauded the professional and knowledgeable service after that.

Ottoman was packed (with social distancing rules in place, of course, starting with signing in on entry and using hand sanitiser) and it was lovely to see Şerif wander through the restaurant connecting with guests towards the end of the evening. 


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Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson: Food reviewer for Canberra CityNews magazine since 2004, covering stories for true foodies to digest.

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