In a first for Canberra, a Turkish-Azerbaijani fusion restaurant has opened, offering special dishes from the shores of the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean, reports dining reviewer WENDY JOHNSON.
THE Caspian Turkish Fusion Cuisine restaurant offer delicious, not pretentious, food and it comes from the heart.
One signature dish on the Kingston Foreshore eatery’s extensive menu is the Icli Mantra, oven-baked mushrooms packed with cheese, diced capsicum, fresh parsley, crushed garlic and egg ($14). It may sound simple, but the trick is getting the right balance and Caspian sure does.
Sharing continued with the addicting Borek. The pastry rolls, formed in the shape of a cigar, were super light and crispy and loaded with salty feta and fresh parsley. They were piping hot and went down the hatch quick sharp.
The Mucver zucchini fritters were also nice and light and beautifully seasoned ($14). After shredding, Caspian mixed the versatile zucchini with carrot and eggs and served with a fresh dill and garlic yoghurt.
A strong recommendation from the main section of the menu is the Kofte Bozbash ($34), traditional Azerbaijani minced-lamb meatballs baked in a clay hot pot. The dish was a flavour bomb with zesty dried prunes and home-made tomato sauce. We lapped up the sauce with fresh Turkish bread.
Another delightful dish was the Fisinjan ($35), a favourite across Azerbaijan and Persia. The chicken was oven-baked in a tangy pomegranate and crushed walnut sauce. As with many mains, the meat was served with rice and salad. We also adored the Karides Tava ($24), marinated prawns, simply but expertly pan-fried with seasonal vegetables.
Other signature dishes include a stuffed eggplant, a crispy saffron rice and Khangal, dough boiled in a meat broth and served hot with fried onions, lamb or chicken. It is served with a garlic sauce and brown butter, which sounds exciting.
White and red wines range from $18 to $28, and Caspian is BYO.
Caspian’s décor is comforting with cultural images and decorative items displayed. The music is perfect for the personality of the restaurant and played at the right level.
We had trouble with one dish, but the kitchen came to the rescue asap, dealing with it professionally and with no argument, which impressed us. Service was a bit hit and miss and we had to flag our waitress a couple of times, even though the restaurant wasn’t busy on our visit. Caspian was new when we landed and no doubt these teething pains are being worked out.
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