Good Turkish cuisine is few and far apart in Sydney, so it came as a surprise when the very first permanent restaurant at the much-discussed Barangaroo development was announced to bring a contemporary take on share-style Ottoman dining to the ongoing precinct. A few months ago, Anason opened to huge expectations, seeing as highly regarded Chef Somer Sivrioglu (Efendy Restaurant) was leading the kitchen. So far, reviews have been glowing, and the youthful and bright homage to traditional Turkish tavernas has been swarming with diners from all over the city, offering an exciting menu along with Istanbul inspired cocktails and a carefully curated wine list that’s full of local and imported Turkish wines.
It’s youthful and bright, most of the seating spilling out to the harbourfront much like the lively atmosphere over at the neighbouring Wulugul pop-up. Past the deep blue coloured doors is a busy scene of shelves lined with glass bottles stacked up to the ceiling, watching over an energetic stainless steel kitchen from which the smell of freshly baked flatbreads waft out of a big bread oven. Sydney designer George Livissianis has outdone himself here, crafting an atmosphere not unlike a crisp European seaside dining experience.
Standing close to the restaurant’s entrance is a Simit Cart, a small street vendor to complete the picture and reiterate the statement Anason is making here. This is casual Turkish dining at its finest, and it’s a distinctive entry to what is bound to be one of the most diverse dining destinations in Sydney.
Za’atar Old Fashioned
Cocktails have been designed by renowned mixologist Quynh Nguyen, who is best known for his work at China Diner and Luis Tans. He has put together a list consistent with the restaurant’s vibrant ambiance. Concoctions like the Anason Spring Punch ($16) are clean and lively, this one in particular standing out with a balance of Turkish Raki, sherry, dry vermouth, turnip vinegar, rose syrup, and fresh berries. A tougher, but still fairly sweet, pick is the Za’atar Old Fashioned ($19), which is a classic Old Fashioned twisted towards Anason’s style, flavoured with a spice mix made up of oregano, sumac, and thyme. It’s an exciting twist, and one which pairs particularly well with the range of breads and dips that make up the only logical starting point to a feast at Anason.
Saj Pita Bread
Sesame Ring Simit
Order up a few of the Saj Pita Bread ($3) because they are beautifully flavoured with zahter and accompanied by the ever-valuable Pepe Saya butter. Next grab a few Sesame Ring Simit ($4) breads, which are nice and thick, chewy with a side of fresh tarragon labne. Next scan the menu for a few dips; the stand-out here is the Atom ($12) which is made with marash chillies (very mild), burnt butter, and strained yoghurt. It’s a light, creamy dip that permeates the breads with a refreshing flavour, a clear winner and an effectively soft way to prepare the palate for a serious pampering.
Cured Salmon Pastrima
Another worthy dip is the White Cod Roe Tamrama ($16) with finger limes and simit chips, bolder in flavour with a smooth, creamy texture and a strong hint of onion at the front of palate while the back is alive with rich salmon. Use this one to finish off the breads for a nice bridge to the stronger flavours of dishes like the exceptional Cured Salmon Pastirma ($21), which is plated with fresh zuchinni flowers, baby zuchinni slices, and mild chilli.
My guest and I were told that the salmon is one of the most popular dishes off the current seasonal menu, and the reason is apparent on first bite. The very thinly sliced cured salmon is dancing with a complex mix of spices that include cumin, fenugreek, paprika, garlic, and capsicum paste, densely melted into the salmon to give it a big taste.
The paunchy Calamarmi Dolma ($24) comes with two large, juicy calamaris bloated with a stuffing of pistachio, feta, and barberries, sitting pretty on a colorful bed of avocado and baba ghanoush, with a few chewy baby octopuses on the side. The filling comes bursting out of the calamari as soon it’s sliced open, a bit of the mixture spilling out and mixing with the “avo-ganush” but most of it contained well inside for a heady mouthful that brings in so many different flavours at once.
Those who love their strong cheeses will take an instant liking to the King Prawns ($25), which come covered in a web of kashar cheese that’s so plentiful it seems like an overgrowth. There are small slices of sujuk in the bowl as well as some mushrooms, both of which are mostly used for texture. The generously sized prawns seem to suck in the flavour from the cheese, rich and succulent with a creamy texture. It’s stunning, both in taste and presentation.
Four big pieces of Beef Kofte ($26) come with a light white bean and tahini piyaz salad, strangely presented with the salad cornered into one side of the bowl while the large meatballs sit in the middle. It’s not as fresh and adventurous as the other dishes here, a bit on the dryer side, but the meatballs are delicious, tangy and rich paired well with the salad and a Za’atar Old Fashioned.
We were advised against the very tempting Whole Lamb Shoulder Pie ($80) simply because it’s said to be an epic serving meant for groups of more than two. That didn’t stop us from drooling over the thought of it though, and will surely be our next go-to on any subsequent visits. Instead, our savoury feast ended with the charming plate of Lamb Fillet ($27) delicately chopped and presented on a cushy mattress of eggplant begendi. The meat is tender and the eggplant is whipped into a fluffy cloud, generous in texture as it goes down with the lamb, capping a journey into the savoury shared dishes of Turkey.
Only a fool would forego dessert. The log of Turkish Delight ($10 for 15cm, $30 for 30cm) is flavoured with pistachio and pomegranate, holding back on the sugar but still sweet enough to hit that need for an indulgent finish, chewy in the middle and beautifully complemented by the nutty surface. It’s an essential order, right along with the eyebrow-raising Chocolate and Cardamom Ice Cream, topped with Turkish coffee cream. The ice cream doesn’t lend itself to sharing as much as the Turkish delight, so it’s recommended to keep this one to yourself.
As the first full restaurant for the Barangaroo precinct, Anason have certainly set the bar high. What Sivrioglu and his team have accomplished is singular and stands as one of the more unique dining experiences in the area; one that’s certainly worth walking up from Darling Harbour for (for any would-be tourists reading). The restaurant has also reinvigorated my excitement for the on-going dining scene that will eventually characterise Barangaroo, and added to the unbelievably strong spat of openings that has enlivened Sydney’s more discerning dining scene during these past six months.
Address: 5/23 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo
Contact: (02) 9188 1581
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 11:30am-3pm + 5:30pm
- Za’atar Old Fashioned
- King Prawns
- Cured Salmon Pastirma
- Calamarmi Dolma
- Turkish Delight
Images supplied where indicated, all other images by Chris Singh.